Political prevarication prompts Campaign funding launch – Press release 17 June 2017

CAMPAIGN FOR BORDERS RAILPRESS RELEASE

17 June 2019

Political prevarication prompts Campaign funding launch

The Campaign for Borders Rail has responded in generally positive terms to the news that electrifcation is on the agenda for the Borders Railway, as reported in The Scotsman (https://www.scotsman.com/news/transport/scottish-government-is-considering-plans-to-electrify-the-borders-railway-1-4948207)

Additionally, the influential lobbying organisation has launched its widest ever funding appeal, aimed at hastening the extension of the Borders Railway from Tweedbank, through Hawick and on to Carlisle, providing an economic lifeline for the Borders, and a new strategic arm of the national rail network. The funding initiative comes on the back of what the Campaign calls a political wrestling match, leading to delay and obfuscation.
In the Campaign’s latest newsletter (number 59), being delivered to all 1,500 members this week, Chair of the Campaign Simon Walton says that despite being closer than ever in the Campaign’s twenty-year history, there could be a wall of resistance building up. In a leader column, he says that there is too little evidence of progress. “Despite encouraging words from political offices, Borders’ communities are in danger of being spectators to would-be decision makers, posturing around in the ring, and taunting each other. We don’t want to see a political wrestling match, leading to delay and obfuscation.”
Mr Walton goes on to say that launching the Campaign’s ‘Onward to Carlisle Fund’ will help see their ambition of a modern, cross-border rail service, supporting economic development, social inclusion and environmental sustainability established within years, not decades. “We need to take our message further into the national agenda,” he said.
Also in the newsletter, Vice Chair Marion Short makes a detailed analysis of the state of cross-border political support. Recent ministerial meetings in Westminster and Holyrood have advanced Campaign initiatives and raised awareness. However, she feels that there is still much work to be done, to mesh together the approaches of the Scottish Government, the UK Government, and the overarching Borderlands Growth Deal. “We fear that rail extension plans will become mired in bureaucracy and it would be our wish that the politicians take charge of the process,” she said.
In a guest newsletter column, Carlisle MP and Borderlands Growth Champion John Stevenson, recognised that rail communications serve an important logistical purpose, and also have a hugely significant cultural impact on the communities they serve. “Few countries have been shaped by the railways like ours – acting like an artery for ideas and progression,” he said. Referring to the infamous report which cut off that lifeblood in 1969, with the closure of the entire network in the Borders, he added: “It’s why the Beeching cuts were felt so deeply. It’s why the Campaign for Borders Rail exists today. It is why the argument for the Borders Railway extension must be economic – but also cultural.”
Later this week, a top-level Campaign delegation and counterparts at Transport Scotland are scheduled for their latest meeting. “Again we will have the opportunity to put our views forward for a stand-alone project for railway extension,” added Marion Short, underlining the part the Campaign plays in promoting cooperation between all decision-making stakeholders.
For images and more information contact Simon Walton below. A business case briefing produced by the Campaign is available on request.
Simon Walton, chairman

http://www.campaignforbordersrail.org
07540 313018
waltonsg@uwclub.net

  

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Campaign concerns on overcrowding as Borders Railway growth continues – Press release 18 February 2019

CAMPAIGN FOR BORDERS RAIL : PRESS RELEASE 18 FEBRUARY 2019

Campaign concerns on overcrowding as Borders Railway growth continues

The Campaign for Borders Rail (CBR) has again voiced concern regarding overcrowding on the Borders Railway. It makes a statement in the latest newsletter (February 2019, #58). A call has been made for a user group to bring the concerns of passengers into sharper focus.

CBR committee member, Robert Drysdale, who has collated performance data, reports that short-formed trains and cancellations were still being experienced by long-suffering passengers. “Sadly, the run-up to Christmas saw those problems reaching an acute level, with passengers being unable to board packed trains – hardly a good way of encouraging rail travel in Midlothian and the Borders.”

The Campaign has acknowledged that problems with overcrowding are not confined to the Borders Railway, but have been experienced across central Scotland. “CBR will continue to campaign for better services on the Borders Railway,” says Robert Drysdale. “At the same time as pursuing the aim of securing extension of the line through the Borders to Hawick and Carlisle, it is clear that formation of a ‘Users Group’ of regular passengers would be a big step forward. Such a group, with members who are all travelling on the line frequently, would be in a strong position to monitor train capacity and operational problems, and take up these issues with ScotRail, assisted where appropriate by CBR.”

Elsewhere in the newsletter, the Campaign has commemorated the fifty years since the closure of the former “Waverley Route” – the main line between Edinburgh, Midlothian, the Borders towns of Galashiels and Hawick, and Carlisle. It’s the Campaign’s primary objective to have reopened this main line, in its entirely, as a catalyst for economic regeneration throughout the region. Recalling events in the early hours of 6 January 1969, Alastair Dalton (The Scotsman and Scotland on Sunday newspapers transport correspondent) recounts the famous Newcastleton blockade, when the last train was halted by angry protestors, furious at the loss of their service. There is also a report on commemorations of the twenty years since the founding of the Campaign, which was incorporated on 25 January 1999, and the launch of author and Campaign member David Spaven’s new book, looking at the ill-fated attempt to revive the railway as a commercial enterprise in “Border Union Dream” (Stenlake Publishing).

Looking to the future, there are calls for extension of the Borders Railway, made by representatives of both Scottish Borders Council and Carlisle City Council. Colin Glover, the leader of Carlisle City Council, says the Borders Railway from Edinburgh to Tweedbank has been very successful and extension would be a boon for Carlisle as well. “Our proposals are now asking the UK and Scottish Governments to provide funding for a feasibility study to extend the line on to Hawick and Carlisle.”

The Campaign also pays tribute to long-standing member Kenneth Gray, who, for much of his eighty years, visually documented life in the Borders through the prism of its once extensive railway network. Kenneth died in January in his home town of Hawick. His eulogy is written by friend and fellow campaigner Bruce McCartney.

 “The Campaign for Borders Rail” may be freely quoted. For further comment and information, please contact Marion Short, vice chair of the Campaign for Borders Rail on ‭07549 853549‬ / over50s@tiscali.co.uk.

Press Release 3 January 2019 : Commemoration of 50th anniversary of closure

Commemoration of 50th anniversary of closure.

Campaign for Borders Rail to commemorate closure of ‘Waverley Route’ and reaffirm lobby for extension of the Borders Railway, through Hawick to Carlisle

Photocall at Tweedbank Station Saturday, 5 January 2019, at 1335 (scheduled arrival time of special train commemorating last through working). Office bearers and supporters of the Campaign in attendance, retiring afterwards to the village of Stow for the launch of author David Spaven’s new book “Border Union Dream” on the early attempts to save the line from closure.

The Campaign for Borders Rail has today reaffirmed its resolve to see rail services restored through Hawick to Carlisle, as a driver for economic regeneration, business development and social inclusion. With the overwhelming success of the Borders Railway between Edinburgh and Tweedbank – the northern section of the former mainline – Campaigners are calling on both Holyrood and Westminster governments to rally behind the project to extend the line. By bringing communities throughout the Borders, in both Scotland and England, back on to the national rail network, it will provide the region with a tangible means to reverse the decades of economic decline, and allow those communities to thrive once again, and play a full part in the modern economic revival of both nations.

Simon Walton, chairman of the Campaign, says that there is growing recognition of the tangible part rail services can play in the regeneration of the Borders, and that the ambitions of the Campaign are closer than ever to being realised. “The phenomenal success of the Borders Railway is a clarion call to governments on both sides of the Border. Rail services work as a catalyst for economic development. Now, with the Campaign’s aims firmly on the agenda in both Holyrood and Westminster, and a cornerstone of the Borderlands Growth Initiative, it’s time to build on that success by committing to realising this vital new infrastructure through a beautiful but economically blighted part of the United Kingdom.”

The last scheduled services to run on the former ‘Waverley Route’ departed Edinburgh and London on 5 January 1969. These were overnight sleeper services of which the southbound train was famously blockaded at Newcastleton in the early hours of 6 January, in a show of widespread civic dismay at the loss of rail services.

However, with membership of the Campaign for Borders Rail now at an all-time high, and broad consensus across communities, business and government, Simon Walton says there’s more reason than ever for optimism. “We are closer than ever to seeing a new strategic cross-border rail link established, and the benefits of that will be felt keenly, not only in the region, but by the economy across the entire UK rail network.”

Notes to Editors:

The report Summary Case for a New Cross-Border Rail Link is available on request to: Simon Walton, phone 07540 313018 or email waltonsg@uwclub.net

Campaign for Borders Rail Onwards through Hawick to Carlisle http://www.campaignforbordersrail.org 

Like us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/campaignforbordersrail/

Campaign AGM sparks debate and new hope for extension  – Press Release issued 20 October 2018

Campaign AGM sparks debate and new hope for extension
The Campaign for Borders Rail AGM saw lively debate during a “question time” afternoon session, featuring a panel including political rivals John Lamont MP and Paul Wheelhouse MSP.  
In front of an audience of around two hundred members and guests at Hawick High School (Saturday, 20 October 2018), the Westminster MP and the Holyrood MSP initially argued over their respective track records on support of the Campaign’s cause to extend the Borders Railway through Hawick to Carlisle. However, in the face of intense questioning from the audience, they did reach consensus on the benefits that rail infrastructure would bring to the community.
Simon Walton, the CBR chairman, who hosted the ‘question time’ styled public event, said it was a real endorsement of the Campaign’s hard work over the past twelve months. “That politicians demonstrated they are united behind the project, proves how far we’ve come,” he said. “We invited panelists from all facets of political and civic life to join us at our nineteenth annual general meeting, and they were able to demonstrate that whatever ideological differences they may have, they were in no conflict over the benefits of being part of the national rail network.”
The meeting also heard that the Scottish Government had decided to take forward two rail-based proposals from the recent Borders Transport Corridors Study (the so-called Jacobs Report) – identifying Tweedbank to Carlisle as an option for examination, and also, to look in more detail at a possible link to the East Coast Main Line.
“The Campaign remains committed to re-establishment of the former ‘Waverley Route’ as the best and most achievable outcome,” said Simon Walton. “The bottom line is that a new rail service through Hawick and the Scottish Borders will go a long way towards solving many of the economic and social challenges faced by the region. It will be the most tangible and achievable way to kick-start that regeneration process, and bring about the best return on investment for the benefit of the widest possible cross-section of the community.” 
Panelist and academic Brian Eaton, who has extensive experience of the value of rail development around the world, cited other examples of sparsely populated areas generating larger than expected traffic flows. His example par excellence was the New Zealand station of National Park, which has virtually no resident population, yet is among the busiest places on the North Island, simply due to the accessibility afforded by rail transport.
Shona Haslam, leader of Scottish Borders Council, emphasised the collateral benefits to communities around the Borders, just by having closer proximity to rail services. From the panel on stage, she listened to host Simon Walton who noted initiatives like Kelso Racecourse’s “track to track” shuttle which brings rail-travelling racegoers direct to the venue. “It’s ideas like this that show how rail demonstrably helps nurture and grow business in the Borders,” added Simon Walton.
Most closely questioned panelists were Richard Morris, the former chair of the Friends of the Carlisle and Settle Line, who recounted how that line, regarded as a sister business case for the ambitions of the Campaign for Borders Rail, had helped support enterprise in the rural economy, and greatly raise the profile and attraction of the region to a worldwide market. However, the most interest was reserved for John Stevenson, the Carlisle MP, and ‘champion’ of the Borderlands Growth Initiative, who reiterated his support for funding of a full feasibility study, as the very next stop on the line to reinstating the badly needed link through the Borders to Carlisle.
Concluding, Simon Walton said: “Having the stated support of the new cross-border agency is a vital step forward. The Campaign and its members must take credit for pushing that agenda forward. John Stevenson did all but pull out his agency’s cheque book, and Paul Wheelhouse reminded us that, while the current agenda puts extension several years down the road, it’s up to the Campaign to be ready to present the case for the Borders Railway extension in the eventually of circumstances changing. Our policy of informed and rational advocacy has served us well thus far, and will serve the Borders well in the future. We’re closer now than ever to seeing everyone’s ambition achieved.”

GUIDE IMAGE: L-R Brian Eaton; Shona Haslam; John Lamont; Paul Wheelhouse; John Stevenson; Richard Morris

For more information contact Simon Walton below.

Simon Walton, chairman

http://www.campaignforbordersrail.org
07540 313018

waltonsg@uwclub.net

Press Release 15 October 2018 – Cabinet Secretary meeting and AGM panel includes Lamont and Wheelhouse. 

CAMPAIGN FOR BORDERS RAILPRESS RELEASE 

Issued 15 October 2018

Frank discussions with Transport Secretary ahead of Campaign AGM including political heavyweights Lamont and Wheelhouse.
The Campaign for Borders Rail (CBR), which is building on the success of the Borders Railway and seeking extension through Hawick to Carlisle, has met with Scottish Government minister Michael Matheson, Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, ahead of their Annual General Meeting in Hawick on Saturday 20 October.
A CBR delegation met in Edinburgh with the recently appointed cabinet secretary, to raise awareness of campaign issues, and to take a briefing on the current government position regarding infrastructure development, with particular relevance to extending the Borders Railway. The Campaign reiterated its invitation to the their “Question Time” style public debate at the AGM.
Simon Walton, the Campaign’s chair, said the meeting was productive, and allowed both sides to express their positions. “The fact that we are around the table, discussing options for extension, rather than still trying to argue the case for the railway, shows how far we have come,” he said.
Marion Short, vice chair of CBR, said that the AGM would be the ideal platform from which to update the membership, and the community at large. “There is a great deal of progress to bring to the membership, and this meeting could not have come at a more opportune time.”
Robert Drysdale, also a senior committee member of the Campaign, raised several issues, which impact directly on the future of the Borders Railway, and the prospects for extension. “Given the nature of the industry, there are a number of bodies involved in any rail project. It’s our job as a Campaign to bring together all the political points of view, the statutory bodies, and the interests of commerce and community, and get them around the table. This is particularly important now that we’re promoting a new cross-border strategic rail route connecting Scotland with England. We’ve plenty of new information to bring to Campaigners at the AGM, and plenty of new questions to put to the panel as well. It should make for a lively afternoon.”
The Campaign’s Annual General Meeting is this Saturday (20 October, 1300-1600) in Hawick High School. The highly-popular “Question Time CBR” panel has been finalised with six prominent figures answering questions from members and the public. They are: John Stevenson MP from the Borderlands Growth Initiative; John Lamont MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk; and Paul Wheelhouse, MSP for South Scotland and ministerial deputy for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity. Local government is represented by Shona Haslam, leader of Scottish Borders Council. Community and commerce are represented by Brian Eaton, academic in the subjects of transport and tourism at Edinburgh Napier and Hong Kong universities; and Richard Morris, chairman of the Friends of the Carlisle and Settle Line, often regarded as the sister railway of what was the “Waverley Route” through the Scottish Borders.
The AGM’s “Question Time” session is open to the general public, with doors open at 1415hrs.

IMAGE: L-R Simon Walton, CBR Chair; Michael Matheson MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity; Marion Short, CBR vice chair; Robert Drysdale, CBR committee. 
For more information contact Simon Walton below.

Simon Walton, chairman

http://www.campaignforbordersrail.org

07540 313018

waltonsg@uwclub.net

Press Release 12 July 2018 : Cross-Border rail campaigner unites 43 communities in fight against Alzheimer’s

Cross-Border rail campaigner unites 43 communities in fight against Alzheimer’s
Announced on the longest day of the year, a life-member of the Campaign for Borders Rail plans to undertake the longest cross-border rail journey in the UK, to connect with communities from North East Scotland to South West England in an epic effort to raise awareness of what can be achieved together, no matter what the cause may be.
On Monday, July 16, John “Kim” Elliot will board the early morning rail service, provided by operator CrossCountry, at Aberdeen. He’ll undertake the 785-mile trip to Penzance, making 43 stops along the way, in the course of the thirteen and a half hour journey.
As a tangible contribution to the community at large, Kim is raising awareness for Alzheimer’s Research UK fight the condition that leaves sufferers disconnected from their friends and families. His fundraising is already underway at uk.virginmoneygiving.com/JohnElliot2.
The journey is symbolic of the way rail services make collaboration between communities possible. The timing of the journey is symbolic of the day that severed that connectivity for many, including Elliot’s own community of Hawick.
In 1968, 11-year-old Kim was part of a delegation that marched on 10 Downing Street to deliver a petition to Harold Wilson, Prime Minister of the day, demanding a reprieve for the impending closure of the 98-mile long main line railway running from Edinburgh Waverley through Midlothian and the Scottish Borders to Carlisle Citadel. The line, known as the Waverley Route, was a lifeline to communities large and small, all of which were cut out of the railway network, and lost out on generations of economic regeneration, when the axe fell six months later. Many places, including the once prosperous mill-towns of Galashiels and Hawick have declined dramatically in the five decades since then.
Elliot’s mother, Madge, led the petition in late 1968, and has remained an active campaigner ever since, though she has now been forced into retirement by the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease. 
His mother’s enforced decline was the inspiration behind Kim’s forthcoming effort to raise awareness for the Campaign his mother inspired, and to prove that much can be achieved when communities are connected together.  
“It promises to be some journey, but the memory of that black day in 1968 – Monday, July 15 – should never be forgotten,” said Kim, emphasising that by remembering what has been lost, keeps alive the ambition to return services and connection to communities isolated by the closure. 
“It is an ironic parallel of the disability of Alzheimer’s Disease,” he said. “It’s a disability of disconnection and, if we can all work together to do something to put right the disconnection suffered by the Borders, and suffered by those afflicted by Alzheimer’s Disease, then we can prove that connected communities do have common purpose that’s made possible by the ability to worktogether. 
Originally inspired by a radio programme called, ‘A Journey Through English’ (first transmitted on BBC’s Radio 4 network on Saturday, 3rd September 2016), Kim had intended to undertake the longest continuous train journey in the UK – between Aberdeen and Penzance – last September to coincide with his 60th birthday, but thought the experience would be enhanced if he waited until longer daylight prevailed. After giving the idea some more thought, he decided to wait until July and dedicate the expedition to:

  • raising money and awareness for Alzheimer’s Research UK (via uk.virginmoneygiving.com/JohnElliot2).
  • elevating the profile of Campaign for Borders Rail
  • commemorating the 50th anniversary of Richard Marsh’s announcement 

In addition to experiencing the UK’s longest continuous train journey between Aberdeen and Penzance, which remains the expedition’s central plank, he hopes to walk from John O’Groats to Thurso and Penzance to Land’s End to top-and-tail the trip. The missing link between Thurso and Aberdeen will be negotiated by boarding the only Sunday train service running from Thurso to Inverness before connecting with an early-evening ScotRail service from Inverness to Aberdeen (Dyce).      
Kim Elliot is available for comment, interview and photo opportunity, before or after the rail elements of his journey. Contact Mr Elliot directly on 07762 755741.  
Please note that this press release does not sanction any media activity around the railway network. Any such activity must be agreed with the relevant owners and operators.
In case you missed it: uk.virginmoneygiving.com/JohnElliot2.
Any other media enquiries may be directed to Simon Walton, Almond Bank Communications, on 07540 313018 / waltonsg@uwclub.net
Does Kim stop in your community? The CrossCountry timetable for the direct 0820 Aberdeen to Penzance service.

 08:20 Starts and departs from Aberdeen
 08:38 Stonehaven

 08:59 Montrose

 09:15 Arbroath

 09:35 Dundee

 09:48 Leuchars

 09:55 Cupar

 10:02 Ladybank

 10:09 Markinch

 10:18 Kirkcaldy

 10:33 Inverkeithing

 10:51 Haymarket

 11:06 Edinburgh (Waverley)

 11:28 Dunbar

 11:51 Berwick-Upon-Tweed

 12:12 Alnmouth

 12:41 Newcastle

 12:54 Durham

 13:12 Darlington

 13:44 York

 14:11 Leeds

 14:23 Wakefield Westgate

 14:55 Sheffield

 15:07 Chesterfield

 15:28 Derby

 15:38 Burton-On-Trent

 16:12 Birmingham New Street

 16:51 Cheltenham Spa

 17:26 Bristol Parkway

 17:44 Bristol Temple Meads

 18:16 Taunton

 18:28 Tiverton Parkway

 18:46 Exeter St David’s

 19:06 Newton Abbot

 19:18 Totnes

 19:49 Plymouth

 20:12 Liskeard

 20:24 Bodmin Parkway

 20:34 Par

 20:41 St Austell

 21:02 Truro

 21:18 Redruth

 21:25 Camborne

 21:35 St Erth

 21:43 arrives and terminates at Penzance

Press Release 22 May 2018 – Campaign for Borders Rail comes to Carlisle

Tuesday 22nd May 2018
Campaign for Borders Rail comes to Carlisle (meeting held on 18th May 2018)

In collaboration with the offices of John Stevenson MP (Carlisle) and John Lamont MP (Berwick, Roxburgh and Selkirk); the Campaign for Borders Rail is jointly distributing the attached press release, giving details of the meeting between the two MPs and the Campaign, held last Friday (18 May 2018) at the offices of John Stevenson MP in Carlisle.

Campaigners fighting to extend the Borders Railway on to Carlisle have met with the two MPs who represent the beginning and the end of the proposed new line.

Carlisle MP and Borderlands Growth Deal Champion, John Stevenson hosted John Lamont MP and representatives of the Campaign for Borders Rail in the city recently, to discuss the potential of bringing the line to Carlisle.
 
At the meeting, John Stevenson MP was briefed about the success of the line to Tweedbank, as well as the potential benefit to the Scottish Borders and Cumbria of extending the line. 
 
Both MPs have now agreed to pursue the issue with the UK Government and make sure extending the Borders Rail is considered as part of the Borderlands Growth Deal. 
Speaking afterwards,

John Lamont MP said: “The business case for bringing the line to Carlisle is clear to me. There could be huge benefits in terms of job creation, better connectivity to the West Coast Mainline and Carlisle airport and also added benefits like getting some freight off our roads.

 
“In my view, the Borderlands Growth Deal is the perfect opportunity to fast track the extension of the railway. Better cross border routes are exactly the type of projects that Borderlands should be supporting.”
John Stevenson MP added: “This proposal is potentially very exciting. It could help boost the connectivity and economy of a substantial part of the Borderlands region. I look forward to working with all parties to try and make this a success.”
 
Simon Walton, Chairman of the Campaign for Borders Rail
said: “It was great to bring the two Members of Parliament together to discuss bringing the Borders Railway to Carlisle.
 “It would really be a strategic link between Carlisle and Cumbria more widely and the Scottish Borders. Both areas would be exposed to new markets and better transport links. This extension is the most tangible way of promoting economic re-development throughout the whole region.
 “There is clearly an opportunity in the Borderlands Growth Deal to press forward with this and I look forward to working with local representatives.”  
 
Ends


Simon Walton, Chairman, Campaign for Borders Rail