CBR attacks Transport Scotland over broken promises on timetable

CBR has reacted angrily to news that Transport Scotland has reneged on its long-promised 55-minute maximum journey time from Edinburgh to the Borders Railway terminus at Tweedbank. The draft timetable issued for consultation earlier this week shows that 78% of Edinburgh-Tweedbank trains will be timed to take longer than 55 minutes, as will 39% of trains from Tweedbank to Edinburgh.

CBR believes that the extra time added to the timetable is ‘padding’ to compensate for anticipated service unreliability caused by Transport Scotland’s short-sighted cut-back of double-track provision on the Borders Railway, from 16 miles to just 9 ½ miles.

See full press release on:

CBR 5 Nov 2103 release re timetable

Another campaign success for CBR

Just a year after CBR – together with Claudia Beamish MSP – persuaded Transport Minister Keith Brown that the Tweedbank station tracks should be extended to handle 12-coach tourist charter trains, there’s more good news on the campaigning front. Transport Scotland’s recent Draft Invitation to Tender for the ScotRail franchise reveals that CBR’s lobbying for timetable flexibility to allow charters to reach Tweedbank on peak demand day – Saturdays – has been successful. Section 2.6 of the document specifies that:

“The Scottish Ministers consider that it is desirable to allow the operation of charter and tourist services by other operators on this route to promote tourism. The Franchisee will be required to facilitate such operation, and cooperate through alterations to its regular timetabled service, at no additional cost.”

Over many years, CBR (and formerly the Waverley Route Trust) has been arguing that its research demonstrated that some 50% of charter train arrivals at Scottish destinations are on Saturdays – generally in the middle of the day – but that the half-hourly ScotRail train service frequency left no spare route capacity for charters except in the evenings and on Sundays. Now the Borders Railway will be able to welcome trains from across Britain bringing valuable additional visitor spend to the regional economy.

It’s unfortunate that the limitations of Transport Scotland’s infrastructure specification means that the price of properly tapping the charter market is dropping the ScotRail frequency to hourly for a few hours on Saturdays (mostly during the summer) – but at least trains can be operated with double the number of seats at these times.

CBR urges councillors to reject single-track Falahill overbridge

In advance of tomorrow’s SBC Planning Committee meeting, Nick Bethune, London Officer of CBR, has urged councillors to ensure that the proposed new road overbridge at Falahill provides sufficent width for future double-tracking of the railway:

“I am writing to you on behalf of the Campaign for Borders Rail (CBR) about Network Rail’s planning application for a revised road and rail arrangement at Falahill, which as a member of the Scottish Borders Council Planning Committee your planning officers will be asking you to approve tomorrow.

“Our message to the Planning Committee is only to approve this application on condition that the proposed bridge structure be redesigned to allow the railway to be double-tracked in the future. The attached letter, which we submitted to SBC as part of the consultation process, sets out our argument in more detail.

“On page 10 of your officers’ report, under the heading “Railway Specification”, the view is expressed that this is outwith the committee’s remit. We strongly disagree. The committee should know that the applicant’s response to the effect that “any future increases in capacity of the line will be met by additional loops, signals and double tracking in areas clear of bridges or other physical constraints” is in fact an empty assurance designed to appease the well-founded concern that the specification of the railway has been cut back in a way that will severely limit its future potential. Because of the policy of designing all new structures on the line to single-track clearances, the passive provision that the applicant’s statement implies has been allowed for elsewhere will not actually be readily available in reality.

“We urge the committee to act in the interests of proper long-term planning, rather than passively accepting arguments that are motivated solely by short-term cost factors.”

CBR calls for cross-Border collaboration on Waverley Route

CBR has responded enthusiastically to the Leeds-based ‘Rail North’ consultation, endorsing the emphasis on improving connectivity from within the region to major centres in other regions such as Edinburgh and Glasgow. It has also made three key suggestions:

1 – The Rail North consortium should be expanded to include representation from local authorities in the South of Scotland as well as the Scottish transport agency, Transport Scotland.

2 – Rail North should also consider the development of a cross-Border inter-regional rail network with a central hub at Carlisle.

3 – Rail North should support the case for a link from Carlisle to the Borders Railway terminus at Tweedbank, thus reinstating the former ‘Waverley Route’ as a through line from Carlisle to Edinburgh.

The full text of the CBR response produced by London Officer, Nick Bethune is on:


CBR’s latest newsletter now available

The 44th CBR newsletter has now been published, featuring:

* AGM 2013: Onwards to Hawick

* Dear Diary – we’ve been busy

* Social Media Like & Tweet us

* Hassendean – a bridge to star

* Community Rail joint ticketing

* Get on the CBR Committee – it’s fun and free.

The electronic version of the newsletter is on:
CBR — Newsletter #44 — October 2013 file compressed

CBR AGM 2013: Onwards to Hawick

CBR has announced details of its 2013 Annual General Meeting, which is to be held on Wednesday 27th November at the Tower Mill auditorium in Hawick.

The meeting will start promptly at 6.30pm and is open to the general public and CBR members alike.

Official business, including election of office-bearers will be conducted between 6.30 and 7pm. From 7pm we look forward to hearing a series of short presentations from speakers representing business, tourism, political and campaigning interests, with a particular focus on bringing the railway back to Hawick. A Question & Answer session will follow before the meeting votes on a closing resolution at 8pm.

CBR members wishing to attend are encouraged, if possible, to inform the Chair in advance so that sufficient seating can be held in reserve. Contact Simon Walton: / 07540 313018.

Refreshments can be purchased from the on-site cafe-bar.

Tower Mill at Heart of Hawick


Arriving –
X95 Southbound (Edinburgh Bus Sta. 1600, Galashiels Bus Sta. 1732, Hawick Buccleuch St. 1813)
X95 Northbound (Carlisle, English Street, The Courts Stand A 1610, Hawick Buccleuch St. 1730)
Departing –
X95 Northbound (Hawick Buccleuch St. 2030, Galashiels Bus Sta. 2113, Edinburgh Bus Sta. 2234)
X95 Southbound (Hawick Buccleuch St. 2022, Carlisle, English Street, The Courts Stand A 2142)

Common Haugh Car Park (free, 5mins walk)
Disabled Parking in front of venue (badge holders only)

CBR calls for ScotRail franchise provision for cyclists and charters

In anticipation of the forthcoming issue of the Invitation to Tender for the next ScotRail franchise, CBR has written to Transport Scotland urging the government agency to ensure (1) that the trains used on the Borders Railway are modified to carry 6 cycle spaces per 3-car unit, and (2) that “the timetable specification should ensure that an appropriate number of spare paths be reserved for both regular and occasional charter use at off-peak times during the week and on Saturdays; the times of maximum demand in the charter market.”

See link below:


CBR criticises Transport Scotland over lack of ‘future proofing’

CBR has questioned Transport Scotland’s failure to ensure that the Borders Railway is ’future proofed’ to allow cost-effective double-tracking in the future. In its response [see link below] to the Network Rail planning application for a new road bridge to carry the A7 over the single-track railway at Falahill, the Campaign has advised Scottish Borders Council that “Our position in relation to the latest proposals for Falahill is that we cannot offer our support unless the A7 road bridge is redesigned to provide double-track clearances for the railway.”


CBR calls for double-track width bridge at Falahill

Responding to the new road plan proposed by Network Rail, CBR has made an official submission to Scottish Borders Council (see link below) advising that “Our position in relation to the latest proposals for Falahill is that we cannot offer our support unless the A7 road bridge is redesigned to provide double-track clearances.”

The planned railway will be single-track at Falahill, but CBR argues that as part of a sensible ‘future proofing’ strategy, the bridge must provide ‘passive provision’ for a future double-track railway at this key location, just a few miles from the southern end of the Fushiebridge-Tynehead loop.

The CBR submission warns SBC that “Our own research, based on Scottish Local Authorities’ asset valuation data, suggests that the costs of rebuilding over a ‘live’ railway may be ten times as much as the additional cost of building a wider bridge at the outset.”