Campaign for Borders Rail vindicated by report to National Infrastructure Commission
A report, “High Speed Rail and Scotland” prepared for submission to the National Infrastructure Commission by the High Speed Rail Group, recommends the completion of the Borders Railway on the grounds of economic regeneration, social inclusion, and strategic deployment of network capacity made possible by the construction of HS2.
The Campaign for Borders Rail says these are all the criteria upon which its own case is built, and the report represents an independent and credible confirmation of its demands for completion of the existing line from Tweedbank through Hawick to Carlisle.
Simon Walton, chair of the Campaign for Borders Rail, said the report reflects the significant shift in attitude towards rail development as a means of economic regeneration. “The findings of the High Speed Rail Group, which represents a very broad church of informed industry opinion, takes a very relevant look at demand for rail services in the light of the post-coronavirus demand, environmental imperatives, and shift towards rail transport. The strategic importance of an extended Borders Railway, as an asset for the entire network, has been recognised at its true value in this report.
The Campaign has always argued that a new cross-border rail link will be of benefit far beyond the Borders. Building the railway will not just be a tremendous fillip for the communities it directly serves, it will be an asset that helps solve challenges of capacity and reliability all over the network.
“The report says Borders Railway completion should be undertaken to “support new regional services and enhance connectivity.”
The Campaign for Borders Rail agrees, and says the full potential of the line has yet to be realised. Simon Walton added: “As a very popular commuter service in Midlothian and a regional service in the central Borders, the line has proved its worth since opening in 2015. With over four million passengers already having used the service, despite considerable capacity constraints, the case for extension could not be clearer.
It is already apparent that extension has widespread support in the community, commerce and all levels of government. We therefore urge no further delay in commissioning the project.
“The Campaign notes, as does the report, that funding is in place for a comprehensive feasibility study, and strongly encourages co-operation between government agencies on both side of the Border to progress this formal step with urgency.
“With so many green lights in front of us,” said Simon Walton, “immediate progress is the obvious course of action.”