As well as celebrating the day’s great news about the Borders Railway, the 2012 CBR AGM at the Scottish Mining Museum yesterday elected a new Chair and Vice Chair to take over from Lorne Anton and Richard Crockett, who had decided to stand down.
Taking over as Chair is Simon Walton from Fountainhall, who writes:
“Born in Loanhead, a small mining village on the outskirts of Edinburgh, Simon Walton made it into the fifties by just 38 days. He is keenly aware of the ever changing face of Scotland, and saw the last coal trains pull out of the Bilston Glen branch off the Waverley Route. In fact his very first rail journey was a short trip on that very line. Though new to the Campaign and to the Borders, Simon is no stranger to the fate of the Waverley Route, and has followed the Borders Railway Project with keen interest for several years. A media and public relations professional, he counts careers with the BBC and the National Trust for Scotland within his varied portfolio. Industrial heritage and communications are Simon’s keenest interests, and he can often be found searching in the most unlikely spots for traces of the past. As a former sound engineer, he’s fascinated by the unattainable aspects of history. What he’d give to actually hear industrial Scotland all over again.
“For the Campaign, Simon is ambitious to see even greater cooperation between the CBR and the community at large. There’s a bigger part for the CBR to play, he says, and encouraging a more active and self-reliant Borders is just one part of that. By working together, he sees the Borders Railway not just a transport link, but an inspiration for greater collaboration in the Borders, and an example of the value of commitment and collective endeavour. He’s committed to seeing restoration in the light of modern needs, and fully supports the push further south.”
The new Vice Chair is Tom Curry, who is a career railwayman, currently developing new business in Scotland for the rail haulier Direct Rail Services. Tom is also a keen railway enthusiast, and spoke in his professional capacity to an early CBR conference on freight prospects for a re-opened Waverley Route. Recently he has been providing advice to David Spaven on operational aspects of the charter train market for CBR’s campaign push, which was so successfully concluded yesterday.
Today’s historic announcement of the Borders Railway contract signing by Transport Scotland and Network Rail also brought confirmation of the success of CBR’s campaign (together with the Waverley Route Trust) for Tweedbank station to be redesigned to accommodate tourist charter trains.
The Tweedbank terminus platform tracks will now be extended to 285m length, enabling commercially viable 12-coach charters to use the Borders Railway – and bringing in new visitor spend to attractions such as Sir Walter Scott’s Abbotsford, Melrose and the Borders abbeys.
Great credit should go to the Scottish Government for listening to CBR, which has argued long and hard for this. The Borders delegation to the Settle & Carlisle line in August – an inspired idea organised by Bill Jamieson and including Claudia Beamish MSP and regional tourism representatives – was crucial in firing up Claudia to press for a meeting with the Transport Minister, Keith Brown. He listened to CBR’s arguments, and has now accepted the merits of the case we have been making for more than a decade.
Congratulations all round, not least to Bill, who today steps down after 13 years continuous service as a CBR officebearer. What a way to go!
While celebration is the order of the day, CBR would also like to gently remind those of you whose membership is due for renewal to send off your £5 sub to Membership Secretary Maureen Anton at Boorach Beag, Summerhill Park, Ayton TD14 5QQ. If you’re not sure whether you’re due for renewal, Maureen can be contacted on 01890 781698 or email@example.com.
This has been a very busy period for CBR, and we need to replenish our coffers to take forward the campaign for a Community Rail Partnership and ensuring that all the new railway’s stations are well-designed for access on foot and by bike.
Network Rail this afternoon announced that the the official signing of the transfer of responsibility for the construction of the Borders Railway from Transport Scotland to Network Rail will take place on Tuesday 6th November at the National Mining Museum in Newtongrange:
“Keith Brown MSP, the Minister for Transport and Veterans, will be in attendance and will undertake the handover of the project to Network Rail. Once the signing is complete, Network Rail will officially begin the construction phase of the Borders Railway project, which will re-establish passenger railway services for the first time in over 40 years from Edinburgh through Midlothian to Tweedbank in the Scottish Borders.
“The new line will include 30 miles of new passenger railway with ten stops and seven new stations, allowing passengers to travel direct from Edinburgh to Tweedbank. It will offer a fast and efficient rail service and new travel options for people in, and travelling to Midlothian and the Scottish Borders.
“The railway will deliver major economic and social development opportunities: connecting people to jobs, housing, leisure opportunities and other facilities.”
So now we can reflect on nearly 20 years of campaigning, and the key role played by CBR since its birth in 1999 to partially put right the injustice done to the Borders in 1969. Congratulations to one and all!
Transport Scotland today advised that the handover of the Borders Railway project to Network Rail will now take place early in the week commencing 5th November – not tomorrow.
Just last week Transport Scotland advised Scotland on Sunday’s Transport Correspondent, Alastair Dalton, that:
“In response to the delivery date of the Borders project, we are currently finalising the commercial terms of the contract with Network Rail for handover to them of the scheme delivery, and expect to conclude those discussions later this month [October].”
Not unnaturally, he assumed the announcement couldn’t be later than Wednesday 31st October!
The paper also carried a lead feature about the return of the railway, in which a recent ‘Waverley Route Wander’ by CBR activists Bill Jamieson and David Spaven – from Gorebridge to Fountainhall – received unexpected (but welcome) publicity:
The Campaign for Borders Rail 2012 Annual General Meeting will be held in the National Mining Museum at Newtongrange at 19.30 on Tuesday, 6th November. The Speaker will be Dr Ann Glen who will give a presentation on the re-opening of the Airdrie-Bathgate line.
CBR is seeking nominations for replacements for the posts of Chair, Vice Chair and Treasurer, and nominations (to the Chair at his address on the Contact Us page on the web site) would be very welcome in advance of the AGM.
Campaigners have got used to misinformation from John Lamont MSP, who describes the new railway as the “Galashiels Railway Project” – ignoring the benefits it will bring to a wide swathe of the Central Borders through bus-rail interchange and park-and-ride – but his latest effort plumbs the depths.
A spurious new story in the Hawick News on 19th October ‘revealed’ that the cost of the railway has doubled from the original budget. Well, we knew that already, and it’s no different to the way that the cost of all three previous rail re-opening projects in Scotland increased from original budget to completion, ditto the M74 Northern Extension. And we know how much of a success these new railways have been.
Bizarrely, Lamont viewed this old news as “yet another blow to the Galashiels Railway Project that would see it delayed once again. With nearly £54 million spent there is still very little to show for it as not a single piece of track has been laid yet.” He obviously hasn’t been at Millerhill since June 2011 (see photo above).
While Paul Wheelhouse MSP rightly accused Lamont of “a campaign of misinformation”, he didn’t help matters with a media statement full of errors:
“The previous specification by Labour and the Lib Dems was little better than light rail and would have resulted in a slow journey time of around 70 minutes, lack of dual-tracking, and no provision for future freight development. The project as is now specified will deliver trains in 55 minutes from Tweedbank to Waverley Station, has largely been dual-tracked for improved resilience, has a standard gauge for future freight and provision for freight-handling facilities, while the additional station at Stow is now included.”
Why can’t our political representatives get their facts right?