NEWS BLOG

Press Release – 26th November 2021

The Campaign for Borders Rail has welcomed the opportunity to consider the Union Connectivity Review as published today by the Department for Transport. We do express some disappointment that the Review does not directly reference the wider strategic benefits of completing the Borders Railway through Hawick to Carlisle, thereby providing a much-needed cross-border link, helping to address existing capacity constraints and anticipated future demand for environmentally sustainable passenger and freight flows.

The report recognises that communities in the Scottish Borders region are enthusiastic about the economic and social benefits resulting from an extension of the Borders Railway south, across the border, to Carlisle. The Review also welcomes the £5 million in funding that the UK Government has made available for the development of an extension to the Borders Railway which would support improved connections between Scotland, the North of England and beyond via the West Coast Main Line at Carlisle. 

It should be noted that the Scottish Government has also committed £5 million to the project, and that the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal – a cross-border coalition of local authorities has also recommended extension of the Borders Railway. 

We welcome the recommendation to take a more strategic approach to planning cross-border transport provision across the UK. We would like to have seen at this stage some recognition of the role an extended Borders Railway could play in delivering more capacity on the West Coast Corridor between Carlisle and Edinburgh. We hope that this can be examined in more detail as the UKNET proposals recommended in the report are developed.

The publication of the Review, despite its limitations, demonstrates the importance of the work of the Campaign for Borders Rail in bringing to the agenda the issue of completion of the Borders Railway, through Hawick and on to Carlisle. In the light of this Review, the Campaign urges both the community and commerce to redouble their support of the Campaign and lobby for extension at every opportunity.

For further contact CBR spokesperson Simon Walton on 07540 313018
communications@campaignforbordersrail.org

Press Release – 22nd June 2021

The Campaign for Borders Rail – the successful pressure group seeking completion of the Borders Railway through Hawick to Carlisle – has been in significant dialogue with ministerial stakeholders, both in Holyrood and Westminster.  

“We have succeeded in taking our message to key decision makers on both sides of the border,” said Marion Short, acting chair of the Campaign. “Coupled with our considerable ‘cut-through’ into the main parties’ manifestos for the Scottish Parliamentary elections in May, there is a hopeful and expectant mood about the Campaign.”

In a meeting convened by John Lamont, the MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk, the Campaign met with Minister of State for Transport, Chris Heaton-Harris MP. The designated ‘Rail Minister’ related particularly to housing, employment, economic regeneration, tourism, timber and freight. Mr Heaton-Harris has particular insight into the rail industry, as he represents Daventry, the Midlands constituency which is home to Daventry International Rail Freight Terminal (DIRFT), the busiest modern terminal in the UK.

The Campaign has been concentrating on a raft of crucial consultations, including the Union Connectivity Review. In May, the Campaign met with Sir Peter Hendy, Chair of Network Rail, and Chair of the Union Connectivity Review – a Westminster commissioned examination of cross-border transport and communication links, with his final report available in August.

The Campaign’s newsletter – delivered to every member in the UK and abroad – also covers the further deterioration of Whitrope Tunnel. The structure is arguably the biggest civil engineering work on the 66-miles of the former Waverley Route, which the Campaign seeks to have re-established as a through route, serving the Borderlands and ensuring cross-border connectivity and a new strategic arm of the national rail network.  Meetings are now taking place with Forestry & Land Scotland seeking better safeguarding of the tunnel ahead of its eventual re-engineering for the reopened line.

Scottish Borders Councillor Clair Ramage reports on community initiatives underway in and around Hawick, supporting the Campaign’s aims. 

In the newsletter’s popular political forum columns, Rachael Hamilton, MSP for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, calls the re-establishment of the railway “a vital catalyst for recovery”.  Christine Grahame, MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, says there is “vision, justice, necessity” for building the line. 

Writing of his experiences filming and presenting the Channel 5 series “Britain’s Lost Railways”, Campaign Patron, engineer and adventurer Rob Bell, says the passion in the Borders is for more than just a railway. “It was for everything the railway can bring to the community”.

The Campaign has also shuffled its own cabinet. Chair Simon Walton is moving to a Spokesperson role; Marion Short moving to Chair and Nick Bethune, the Campaign’s executive secretary taking on the Vice-Chair role. The Campaign is seeking an administrative secretary to assist Mr Bethune.  

For further details and comment, contact Simon Walton on 07540 313018
communications@campaignforbordersrail.org

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 / chair@campaignforbordersrail.org

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: https://campaignforbordersrail.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/UCR-CBR-Submission-Final.pdf

EDITORS’ NOTES
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. 

Press Release – Sunday 6 September 2020

The Borders Railway Five Years On

Campaign for Borders Rail comes to terms with the pandemic with a fifth anniversary celebration, and helps produce a four DVD souvenir box set charting the first five years and looking forward to the chapters yet unwritten. The DVD is officially released on 9 September, five years to the day since Her Majesty The Queen was observed by the world’s media, opening the line at Tweedbank. 


Five years success and more success to come. That is the message from the Campaign for Borders Rail, the group that successfully lobbied for the opening of the Borders Railway, between Edinburgh, Midlothian, and Tweedbank in the Scottish Borders. The Campaign continues to argue the case for extension of the line, onwards through Hawick to Carlisle. 
In celebration of the first five years and in support of the growing calls for extension, the Campaign has collaborated in producing a far-reaching documentary, that involves all the main players in the existing project, and the decision makers who will sign off on a completely restored mainline through the Borderlands.


Simon Walton quote: Chair of the Campaign for Borders Rail, Simon Walton, said the DVD souvenir set was a worthy alternative to a public event. “We would love to be recreating the fantastic scenes at Tweedbank, when The Queen opened the line and brought opportunity back to the Borders,” he said. “Under the current circumstances we cannot of course do that, but we have brought together representatives from every viewpoint, to tell the story of the existing Borders Railway, and make the case for extension, through Hawick to Carlisle.


Simon Walton quote: “Stuart Cameron has been itching to do a really definitive very much up to date look at the Borders Railway, completed only days before the anniversary,” said Simon Walton. “These circumstances have presented the perfect opportunity. Our Borders Railway Five Years On DVD set is a real lasting souvenir, and something that involves everybody who cares for the railway, the Borders, and the community at large.”


The four DVD box set features a brand new professionally produced documentary, and a never-before-seen real-time drivers’ eye view of a complete run from Tweedbank to Edinburgh Waverley. It also re-visits producer Stuart Cameron’s in-depth telling of the construction story of the Borders Railway, from start to finish. The documentary, with many interviews conducted by Chair of the Campaign for Borders Rail, Simon Walton, looks at what has been achieved so far, the lessons learned, and where the future will take the ambitions of the Borderlands and the Campaign for Borders Rail. 


Documentary contributors include the Campaign’s new patron, TV presenter and engineer Rob Bell, Managing Director of Scotland’s Railway Alex Hynes, Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson MSP, Champion of the Borderlands Growth Initiative John Stevenson MP, national, devolved and local government representatives, historians, engineers; and the driver of the very first public train to use the Borders Railway, now rail driving instructor Stuart Farrell from Selkirk.


Rob Bell quote: In the documentary, the Patron of the Campaign, TV presenter and engineer Rob Bell, looks forward to the benefits for future generations. “There’s a real sense of pride in the Borders about their region, a real urge to be active and to do things well, and although times can be challenging, I sense there is a real optimism for the future, that you can’t help but be swept along by.”


The never-before-seen opportunity to ride up front from Tweedbank to Edinburgh Waverley is a treat for rail enthusiasts, and a real-time experience to share with family and friends. 


Simon Walton says the cab ride is a unique way to enjoy the Borders Railway, from anywhere in the world. “The real-time ride has never been seen before, but it is a fantastic way to enjoy not just the Borders Railway, but it is a wonderful showcase for the Borders. You can put that on and just relive the run whether you’re in Abbotsford or Australia. Better still, you can now share the experience with anyone, near and far. I think this is the best thing about the DVD set – it’s an opportunity to take the railway, the Borders, and the Campaign onto a truly international stage.


“It is my firm belief that while the temporary terminus at Tweedbank is as far as the line currently reaches, that will soon change and we will be on our way to Hawick and Carlisle. This DVD set is a unique document of both achievement and ambition and a worthy commemoration of the fifth anniversary of the Borders Railway.” 


Notes for editors:
The Borders Railway Five Years On is a four DVD box set, available now from www.campaignforbordersrail.org, and from selected retail outlets. The set can be ordered online or by mail at £32.99 including postage and packing. Campaign members’ price is £27.99.


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.


Images (and credits) follow this Dropbox link


Cover artwork for DVD Box Set (StuMedia); Rob Bell, Patron of the Campaign for Borders Rail (Rob Bell) – seated; Simon Walton, Chair of the Campaign for Borders Rail (Simon Walton); Three images of the royal opening variously with Her Majesty The Queen, Prince Philip The Duke of Edinburgh, Nicola Sturgeon First Minister of Scotland (Alwyn Johnston).


Moving images:Please contact producer Stuart Cameron at StuMedia to discuss any requirements for representative video images (phone 07977 986849). 


For further comment or information, contact Simon Walton on 07540 313018

Press Release – Friday 10 July 2020


Rob Bell ‘Walking Britain’s Lost Railways’ named Patron of Campaign for Borders Rail


The Campaign for Borders Rail is delighted to announce that television presenter, engineer and adventurer, Rob Bell is to be the lobby group’s first appointed patron. Rob is one of the best known faces on British and international television, for his many series of enthusiastic explorations of natural wonders and engineering marvels all over the world. His patronage brings that enthusiasm to the Campaign, and brings the Campaign to a whole new audience.


Rob captured the hearts of the Borders with his presentation of the recent Channel Five series Walking Britain’s Lost Railways. The finale, and most watched edition, featured the Borders Railway and the former Waverley Route, and brought the case for extending the line to a new audience of almost two million viewers. Rob travelled the Borders Railway from Edinburgh to Tweedbank and then embarked on the trek from there, all the way to Carlisle, exploring the heritage of the region and meeting Borderers all along the way.


Rob Bell:  “I was really taken but the passion and enthusiasm of the people,” said Rob. “The culture and heritage of the region is unique, and the people have real pride in their communities. There’s a sense of identity coupled with a healthy rivalry between communities. The region deserves every opportunity to bring that pride of place to as many people as possible, and the Campaign for Borders Rail is a project that can make that happen.
Rob Bell:  “It seems to me that the Borders craves this missing part of its heritage; the railway that connected all those communities together and contributed to unifying the Borders more than anything else for over a century. I’m honoured to be a patron of the Campaign for Borders Rail and look forward to playing my part in achieving that goal of reconnection.”
Rob was introduced to the Campaign by Fintan McGuire, the Head of Popular Factual at Rumpus Media, who made the TV series ‘Walking Britain’s Lost Railways’. Fintan said: “We’ve of course had a lot of interest generated by Walking Britain’s Lost Railways, but Simon’s approach on behalf of the Campaign for Borders Rail was quite unique. 


Fintan McGuire:  “I knew Simon and Rob had got along very well on the shoot for the show, and Rob and the crew had said how much they enjoyed the visit. When Simon approached me, I was more than happy to help shake hands on the deal. This episode as much as any epitomised all that excites us about the series. It is a great engineering feat, built though some outstanding landscapes, connecting communities and was a pleasure to film.”


Simon Walton:  “The Campaign has worked hard to take the message of the Borders Railway and the Borders to a national audience, and prove that the new Waverley Route will be an asset to the community, the region and the nation. Having Rob Bell on board as our patron takes that up a level, and gives the Campaign an ambassador that will help introduce a whole new audience to the ambitions we share, to make the Borders everything it can be, by building a new railway and making the Borders a better place for generations to come.”

For further comment, contact Simon Walton on 07540 313018

Include Borders Railway in Big Build

PRESS RELEASE – Monday, 29 June 2020

Include Borders Railway in Big Build


The Campaign for Borders Rail is calling on the UK Government to include extension of the Borders Railway, as a crucial project within their ‘Big Build’ economic revival programme, and to complete the line between Edinburgh, the Borders, and Carlisle.


An announcement is expected on Tuesday (30 June) of a significant programme of infrastructure investment across the UK. The Campaign for Borders Rail says that within the context of economic recovery, the completion of the former Waverley Route, through Hawick to Carlisle, provides a ready-made project to stimulate local, regional and national growth. They say that the so-called ‘Big Build’ must also consider the Borders Railway.


Simon Walton, chair of the Campaign, said that extending the Borders Railway between Tweedbank and Carlisle, has the backing of community, commerce, administrations, and industry at large throughout the UK.
“If the UK Government is to introduce a programme of infrastructure investment, which is to underpin the recovery of the UK economy, then the re-establishment of this cross-border rail link absolutely fits the bill. The Campaign for Borders Rail has consistently made the case that a new, fit for purpose, Borders Railway will promote economic regeneration, social inclusion, and environmental sustainability. Add to that the fact that a new Borders Railway will benefit not just the national network now, by providing much needed capacity, but will also economically benefit many generations to come. This can be a legacy project that demonstrates a commitment to long-term recovery and faith in the future.”
The Campaign calls on Governments on both sides of the England-Scotland border to co-operate on making a new Borders Railway a reality. Their submission comes on the heels of a report from the widely-representative High Speed Rail Group, which specifically cited completing the Borders Railway as a crucial development for the national rail network and to help take full advantage of the HS2 project (see the HSRG document “High Speed Rail and Scotland”).


Simon Walton added that devolved transport powers should be an opportunity, not an obstacle to progress. “Both Westminster and Holyrood Governments have already demonstrated that the economic regeneration of the Borderlands is a priority,” he said. “The Campaign already works at a cross-party, cross-border and cross-administration levels to encourage railway development as a tangible and achievable way of making the common goals of opportunity, inclusion and sustainability a reality.”


ENDS


For further comment, contact Simon Walton on 07540 313018
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. 

Press Release -11 June 2020



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.”     

Big opportunity on the small screen

This article has been published as a supplementary feature in conjunction with Campaign for Borders Rail’s Newsletter 62. To receive the full newsletter, please subscribe to become a member of the Campaign – details at https://campaignforbordersrail.org/support/

Back in the days before shaking hands became life-threateningly foolhardy, Simon Walton met Rob Bell, for a special edition of Britain’s Lost Railways. TV’s Mr Enthusiastic may be the persona he plays up, but proper professional broadcaster is what’s going on behind that boyish, ever-present smile, says the Campaign chair.

It’s no coincidence that several locations from the Borders feature in the opening titles for the whole series. Sweeping landscapes; aerial footage of Melrose; the restored Hassendean station, and even a still from Stobs in the production company publicity. Is it any wonder that the Channel Five schedulers saved the best until last.

Yet, holding my own when it came to toothy grins, I merrily sent Rob on his way, to walk the remaining sixty-odd miles of the line. Clever editing kept the two production Range Rovers out of shot, apparently.

Novel Competition

Before getting on my own way, I just had time to enter that Channel Five competition, the one they’ve been running to promote the Borders in every ad-break over the entire six-part series. A luxury visit to Edinburgh and the Borders, including a trip on the Borders Railway and a private dining opportunity at Abbotsford. All that’s missing from that is for Walter Scott himself to pour the tea.

What’s engaged me most about the series, is that it’s not just about railways. Far from it, and I think the Borders edition played that hand most effectively. There is just so much with which to engage, and I didn’t envy the producers in making their choices. There were bound to be some left out on the cutting room floor. Sadly, no room for rugby, reivers nor common ridings, but step forward so much more besides. Walter Scott, Stobs Camp, Tweed river, and tweed cloth, all made the final cut, and so much more besides. Yet, tying it all together, that steel thread of the Waverley Route, the lost railway in question.

Showcase the Borders

For a whole new audience, the very essence of what the Campaign strives to achieve was brought out in a whole new context. How many times did ‘railway’ make it into the script? It’s into triple figures. Yet, cut the overtly trackside elements from the show, and you’d still have a lengthy diorama of the Borders.

Rumpus Media, who made the programme, have done as much to showcase the Borders on the back of this Channel Five series as we have ourselves.  Anticipation from you, our members, and supporters all over the world, has made this far and away our most popular discussion points of the year. More than 10,000 visitors to our social media channels, and still counting.

Lost no more

Rob Bell made a really telling pay-off, when he did his closing piece to camera, down at Carlisle Citadel station. His remarks were not prompted by the Campaign, but I think that, having seen first hand the passion for the line, and the passion for Borders life, that he was in no doubt that what we’ve started we must finish. Like the man himself, as I waved Rob on his way from Tweedbank, it’s onward to Hawick and Carlisle.

You can still catch the show, online at My5, the Channel Five catch-up service. It’s there for the next three years at least. Now, who’s to say that by then, Rob’s words won’t have come true, and the Waverley Route will be a lost railway no more.

Endnote: Nostalgia while looking to the future

Campaign chair Simon Walton thanked everyone involved in our recent national television exposure, Britain’s Lost Railways on Channel Five in the UK. He says while looking back, everyone was looking forward too. “There is a vast legacy of pride in the Borders, and that pride is epitomised in the Waverley Route and all it stands for.” 

Presenter Rob Bell met real Borders ambassadors every step of the way, from Edinburgh to Carlisle. “The producers took a real interest,” said Simon. “Campaigners played a real part in making the programme the best viewed of the series.” The producers said how much everyone on the team appreciated the generous support of everyone they’d met. 

Simon was however critical of statutory bodies, who hadn’t taken advantage of the same opportunity. “I would have hoped for more from those employed to promote the very best of Scotland, and the very best of the Borders. A free hour of dedicated national television does not come around very often,” he said. 

Campaign for Borders Rail Press Release – 2 June 2020

“Campaign more important now than ever”

  • “Building the new cross-border rail rink is the most important post-coronavirus project we can undertake to redefine ourselves” Simon Walton, chair, Campaign for Borders Rail
  • Campaign for Borders Rail has made a radical restatement of policy, and pledges more to commerce and the community on both sides of the Border. 
  • Addressing the membership through the latest newsletter – published today – the Campaign restated its case for extending the Borders Railway through Hawick to Carlisle. 

Expanding on its aims to serve the community and facilitate economic regeneration, beginning with the establishment of a through, cross-border rail link, the Campaign for Borders Rail says that the need for investment in the community is even greater in the light of the coronavirus crisis. 

In a leader column for the newsletter, Nick Bethune, Campaign secretary, said that the need for investment represented by the new rail link had only increased in the past few months. “Despite the trend for increased home working given impetus by the crisis, it’s clear that the capacity and coverage of the rail network will need to expand in future,” he said. “Changes in strategic priorities are needed to address the climate emergency and inclusivity goals. The ‘new normal’ may be very different but the vital need to extend the Borders Railway remains.”

Simon Walton, Campaign chair, said building the line is now more important than ever. His written address to the membership, reproduced below, is an affirmation of Campaign policy, and a positive response to the coronavirus crisis. “Governments on both sides of the Border, and elected representatives from all political persuasions, are united in the understanding that economic development is vital if there is to be a meaningful recovery. Infrastructure, which demonstrably supports both commerce and community is the best way to invest in that recovery,” he said. 

“The evidence of the success of the existing Borders Railway, and other rail-based projects nation-wide, gives precedent to the business case made by the Campaign,” added Simon Walton. “It is our commitment to the members of the Campaign, who have already demonstrated their support for the community at large, to push for that consensus to be turned into commitment and move as rapidly as possible through the stages of development and construction to completion and operation.”

Extract from Campaign for Borders Rail Newsletter #62 (June 2020).

View from the Chair

Building the line is now more important than ever, says Simon Walton.

We are facing a worldwide crisis that transcends any of our own ambitions. Our lives and livelihoods are in turmoil. There are stresses and anxieties most of us will never have faced before. We are tied down, in a cycle of isolation and immobility. 

But not forever. Of this, we must not lose sight. 

I have been receiving reports of sacrifices made by members, working hard in their communities, and helping make life better for family, friends, neighbours and strangers who need support. Once again, I am proud to be part of the Campaign, and count myself among your number. People who support the Campaign are the sort of people who understand the value of community, and are prepared to take that extra step, for the benefit of others. 

When this crisis in our lives has past – and it will pass – we will have experienced the very best that our community has to offer. Our nation – however you define nation – will have pulled together, in ways we may not have thought possible. We have demonstrated how important it is to pool our resources, and value what we have to offer, wherever we are. 

For these reasons, I say that our Campaign is more important than ever.

Bringing communities together, making it more possible to communicate with each other, will be even more important. Better connecting the Borders to each other, and to those communities around us, will be recognised for its true worth.

Yet, more importantly, there will be a need to better define our sense of national purpose. Tangible evidence that we pull together as one. Projects that bring people together, and serve a national purpose too, will be the most important part of that recovery. 

No matter how you stand, on issues of community, communication or nation, there is one project of which I can think, that answers all those calls, and defines our recovery. That project is the completion of the Borders Railway. The very project to which our collective ambition is directed Onward from Tweedbank to Hawick and Carlisle, reconnecting the Borders in the spirit of community and cooperation.

Our movements may be restricted – for now – but our ambition remains unbounded. We do of course keep up our efforts remotely. When the time is right, and it is safe to do so, we will be re-engaging with decision makers, and progressing the Campaign.

Content also includes:

  • New Campaign website revealed 
  • Extension plans in more detail
  • Historic photo feature of late 1960s excursion 
  • This edition’s guest elected representative is Paul Wheelhouse MSP
  • Northern Powerhouse director Henri Murison on strategic significance of a new cross-border rail link