Holding its first AGM in Edinburgh for over ten years, the Campaign for Borders Rail was told on Tuesday morning that completing the main line from Tweedbank to Carlisle, was ‘absolutely rock solid’. That enthusiastic message came from Christine Grahame, MSP for Midlothian South, Tweedale and Lauderdale, who has been an enthusiastic supporter of the Campaign throughout its twenty-year existence. The prospect of rebuilding the southern section of the line, joining up with the existing Borders Railway from Edinburgh, would make a through route in the Scottish Borders a reality for the first time in fifty years.
Simon Walton, re-elected as chair of the Campaign, said he shared that commitment, and urged Campaigners to ‘raise their game’ as the Campaign sought to ensure that the promise of £10m for a feasibility study (made jointly by Holyrood and Westminster governments in September) remains top of the agenda, and delivers a positive recommendation. “I have always regarded the existing Borders Railway as phase one of our ambition for the Borders. Getting commitment to build the remainder has to be our next goal, and we’re moving closer to that every day,” he said. “The political climate has moved significantly in favour of environmentally sustainable economic development. That means railway projects like the completion of the Borders Railway make even more sense as a means of rejuvenating communities at the same time as greening the environment.”
Author David Spaven, who wrote the definitive history of the closure and rebirth of the line, delivered a presentation and concise history of “The Borders Railway and 20 years of CBR”. Mr Spaven praised the efforts of the Campaign, particularly noting the successful case made for a station at Stow, and the concessions won to accommodate charter traffic. He was however critical of the cuts made to bring the railway project in on budget, and highlighted what he called inappropriate gold-plating on aspects fo the project, such as bridge structures designed for only one rail track, while also highlighting the additional costs of rectifying breaches to the line made in the intervening years.
Honoured guests included Hawick’s Madge Elliot, the emeritus campaigner, who organised a petition, presented to Prime Minister Harold Wilson at Downing Street in December 1968, and environmental campaigner Petra Biberbach, who was the first chair of the Campaign in 1999. Ms Biberbach and Mr Walton went on to cut a ceremonial birthday cake in commemoration of the Campaign’s anniversary.
For images, contact Ger Harley at Ger@edinburghelitemedia.co.uk / 07917161762
Simon Walton, chairman
‘The Campaign for Borders Rail one of the most successful grassroots rail campaigns in Great Britain’
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