Press Release – 7th February 2021

The Campaign for Borders Rail (CBR) has made a well-argued submission to the Union Connectivity Review. CBR say there is a stronger than ever case for an extended Borders Railway as a community lifeline, a regional economic driver, and as a strategic addition to the infrastructure of the entire UK. That is the message explained to members all over the country and abroad, in the Campaign’s latest newsletter, which carries a summary of the submitted case for building through Hawick to Carlisle.

It took a month of intense activity to respond to the November call for evidence from the Union Connectivity Review, the Westminster commissioned consultation. CBR Secretary Nick Bethune explained how important it is to remain engaged with both Edinburgh and London. “Whilst conscious of the need to maintain political neutrality, CBR has recognised the Review as an opportunity to put our case for extending the Borders Railway as a strategic cross-border project,” he said.

The newsletter notes that the Review has sparked a political disagreement, with the Scottish Government claiming a lack of prior consultation and an infringement on devolution. However, the Campaign has kept its focus on uniting stakeholders behind the extension project. Bethune notes significant success in that respect. “We received the welcome news that Scottish Borders Council had endorsed our submission, referencing it as an appendix in their own response to the Review”, added Nick Bethune.

Contributors to the newsletter’s Political Forum are Shona Haslam, the leader of Scottish Borders Council, and Claudia Beamish MSP, the Labour representative for the South of Scotland. Haslam reaffirms the local authority’s backing. “We will be continuing to lobby hard on all fronts to ensure that the Borders Railway is top of everyone’s agenda,” she writes. While emphasising the environmental benefits, Beamish also endorses the Campaign efforts. “Your Union Connectivity Review submission stresses the multi-benefits that completing the line between Carlisle and Tweedbank will bring,” she says.

Engineer, adventurer and television presenter Rob Bell, Patron of the Campaign, contributes his first column for the newsletter. Like everyone else, Bell is looking forward to better times. “I think joyously about being back on trains – post-Covid – travelling around Britain for work and pleasure, getting my fix of positivity. I’ve heard the journey from Edinburgh to Carlisle would yield me this in spades. And I’m confident I’ll get to ride it,” he writes.

Other features include:
• Chair’s report on growing influence and membership
• Campaign calendars go around the world
• Carlisle station precinct project heralds a Citadel ready for the Borders Railway

Note for editors: Campaign for Borders Rail seeks the economic regeneration, social inclusion, environmental sustainability and cross-border national infrastructure afforded by completing the railway between Tweedbank, through Hawick and onwards to Carlisle. PRESS CONTACT: Simon Walton 07540 313018 /