Press Release – Saturday 9th January 2021

Complete the Borders Railway: Campaign tells Union Connectivity Review

The Campaign for Borders Rail, the influential community-based group lobbying for extension and completion of the Borders Railway, has made its case to the Union Connectivity Review, commissioned by HM Government, and chaired by Network Rail’s Sir Peter Hendy. CBR has told the Review that completing the line, between Carlisle and Tweedbank will deliver the connectivity, economic boost, social inclusion and environmental sustainability mandated by the Review and government policy at both Holyrood and Westminster.

The Campaign for Borders Rail has told the Union Connectivity Review that a new cross-border rail link would complete the Edinburgh – Scottish Borders – Carlisle railway, delivering significant strategic benefits central to the Union Connectivity Review’s objectives. The proposal would involve extending the existing Borders Railway from its present terminus at Tweedbank in the Central Borders, through Hawick to a connection with the West Coast Main Line (WCML) near Carlisle, providing through and connecting opportunities with WCML services, and the planned introduction of HS2 services through the Carlisle hub.

Simon Walton, chair and spokesperson for the Campaign said that the strategic need for the extended railway was now recognised throughout the UK, and the wider network benefits were apparent to all potential stakeholders. “Investing in the Borders Railway extension is the best value way to simultaneously deliver a step-change in cross-border connectivity and substantial economic growth for the region” 

“The Campaign has long argued that completing the Borders Railway serves the local community, the regional economy and the national network in equal measure,” added Simon Walton. “The case has been proven by the runaway success of the existing line between Edinburgh and Tweedbank, and now the call for extension is louder than ever. Within the last year, the requirement and viability of extension has been recognised by stakeholders including local authorities, the Borders Inclusive Growth Deal, Transport for the North and the High Speed Rail Group – the top-level industry association backing HS2.”

Within the context of the Union Connectivity Review, CBR has outlined several key benefits of through-route completion of the Borders Railway:

  • An important additional economic driver strengthening transport links within the cross-border region in support of the Borderlands economic regeneration and the regional growth agenda.
  • An additional route for freight between Scotland and England to meet growing demand.
  • Maximising the return on investment and potential benefits of HS2 services by providingdirect onward rail connectivity from the HS2 hub at Carlisle into the Borders region.
  • Increasing network resilience through provision of a diversionary route between Carlisle and Edinburgh for the WCML.
  • Reinforcing the role and increasing the zone of economic influence of Carlisle as the regional centre of the English and Scottish Borderlands by improving access from the Scottish Borders area. The railway will also support the further development of employment and industrial zones on the northern side of Carlisle.
  • Regenerating ‘left behind’ communities across the region, currently limited by slow and unreliable public transport services and reliance on cars for mobility.
  • Providing socially-inclusive access to employment and educational opportunities in the Carlisle area and encouraging the development of tourism and inward investment.
  • Placing the transport of timber from the extensive cross-border forestry plantations on a sustainable basis by providing direct rail access to the logging areas and removing dangerous and polluting HGV movements from local roads.

Simon Walton added that the extension of the Borders Railway would play a critical part in the mandated shift to a net-zero carbon economy. “Its construction will support the wider modal shift from road to rail through the extension of train services into areas of high car-dependency and poor public transport provision”, he said. “The railway will become the spine of an integrated public transport network for the region through the provision of rail-bus interchange facilities, park and ride sites, and linkages with walking and cycling routes. The potential advantages of a completed Borders Railway have cross-party political support, and the wide lobby of industry and community. The consensus is behind this project and the Campaign urges the Union Connectivity Review to recognise that, and make the unequivocal recommendation that this railway has an overwhelming case for construction.” 

For further comment, contact Simon Walton on 07540 313018

Click here to download a full copy of CBR’s submission to the Union Connectivity Review:

Read the Campaign’s “Summary Case for a new cross-border rail link” here.
The Campaign for Borders Rail is a long-established pressure group promoting the benefits of modern train services for communities across the Borderlands. Our grassroots campaign saw the rail link from Edinburgh to the Scottish Borders reopened. Now we’re lobbying to extend the popular Borders Railway onward to Hawick and Carlisle. Visit the Campaign website for further details.