22 January 2016
BRIDGE PROBLEM STRENGTHENS CASE FOR RE-OPENING CROSS-BORDER RAIL LINK
The closure for several weeks of the West Coast Main Line because of weather-related damage to a bridge carrying the railway over the Clyde at Lamington in South Lanarkshire strengthens the case for re-opening rail access between Edinburgh and Carlisle through Hawick.
That’s the view of the Campaign for Borders Rail (CBR) which seeks enhancement and extension of the Borders Railway that opened through Midlothian and part of the Scottish Borders last September.
“A wrong was committed against Scotland and the North of England in 1969 when the Waverley Route was closed between Edinburgh and Carlisle,” said Allan McLean, chairman of the CBR.
“Part of the old route was formally reopened by the Queen last year but now we want to see other communities reconnected to Edinburgh and Carlisle by train, including Hawick. The current terminus of the Borders Railway at Tweedbank between Galashiels and Melrose should only be regarded as temporary,” he added. “The case for reinstating tracks all the way from Tweedbank to Carlisle is strengthened by the news that closure of the other route between Edinburgh and Carlisle through Lockerbie will go on for longer than expected.”
“Alternative services between Carlisle and Glasgow have been provided because the diversionary route via Dumfries and Kilmarnock was kept. By contrast, passengers between North West England and Edinburgh are having to use rail-replacement buses or suffer lengthy detours. If there was still a direct line of rails between the capital of Scotland and the Cumbrian city of Carlisle through the Scottish Borders, much damage to the economy could have been avoided.”
McLean said that the CBR supports proposals by politicians and others for extension of the Borders Railway and for detailed studies to be carried out into what should be done. He stressed that reconnecting more Borders communities directly to the rail network would provide an economic boost as well as offering flexibility for diversions when necessary.
Trains on the former Waverley Route ran from Edinburgh to Carlisle, a distance of almost 100 miles, for more than 100 years until closure in January 1969. That line through Galashiels, Melrose, Newtown St Boswells and Hawick offered the shortest rail distance between Edinburgh and Carlisle.
The Borders Railway between Edinburgh and Tweedbank uses a new trackbed out of Edinburgh and into Midlothian but otherwise follows a significant part of the old Waverley Route. In addition to intermediate stations on existing track at Brunstane and Newcraighall, stations were opened on the Borders Railway at Shawfair, Eskbank, Newtongrange, Gorebridge, Stow, Galashiels and Tweedbank.
Note to editors: Allan McLean of the Campaign for Borders Rail can be contacted by phone on
07531 129 892 or by email at email@example.com