Campaign report calls for a new Cross-Border Rail link : Campaign for Borders Rail press release 30 May 2017

Campaign report calls for a new Cross-Border Rail link

A report detailing the advantages of enhancing and extending the Borders Railway to better serve more communities directly has been published by the Campaign for Borders Rail (CBR). CBR-2017-Summary Case-Digital Version

Under the report proposals, the service that opened in September 2015 between Edinburgh, Galashiels and Tweedbank (near Melrose) would be improved, and the line would be extended as a through route, via Hawick to Carlisle, providing a new strategic link in the national network.

“We believe that the Borders needs a through route to the south to maximise the region’s economic potential. For Hawick, a rail link is vital,” the CBR briefing document states.

The Summary Case for a New Cross-Border Rail Link adds: “Campaign for Borders Rail is committed to making the case for further rail-led economic and social regeneration of the Borders and a transformative new cross-border rail link.”

The briefing, which is being distributed to parlimentary candidates ahead of the 8 June Westminster General Election, and made widely available other individuals, stakeholders and organisations, sees the vision for an extended Borders Railway as an “exciting opportunity”.

The railway development would connect more of the places that were served by the Waverley Route when it closed over the 98 miles between Edinburgh and Carlisle in 1969. The existing line largely follows the course of the northern end of the old Waverley Route out of Edinburgh and through Midlothian into the central Scottish Borders. It has proved hugely successful and can be improved and extended.

“This document will help inform the debate on preparing for the proposed railway through the Scottish Borders to Carlisle and beyond,” said Allan McLean, chairman of the Campaign for Borders Rail.

“The economies of Edinburgh, Midlothian and the northern Borders have all gained demonstably from the opening of the Borders Railway. Now it is time for Hawick and other communities in the southern Borders to benefit directly,” he added.

The briefing document sets out the CBR’s commercial, social and economic cases for a new railway linking the existing Tweedbank terminus to the West Coast Main Line at Mossband, just north of Carlisle. 

“The completed railway would allow through trains between Edinburgh and Carlisle, serving intermediate settlements including Hawick. Communities not directly served would benefit from access by connecting bus services and Park & Ride stations,” the document states.

Extending the railway to Hawick and Carlisle is the only realistic proposal to adequately address economic and social problems faced by the Scottish Borders and release the full potential, states the report. Detailed studies indicate benefits for passengers and freight that can be realised by the investment.

The first copy of the 20-page document was presented by the Campaign Chairman, Allan McLean, to Scotland’s Minister for Transport and the Islands, Humza Yousaf MSP, at their most recent meeting at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh.

Notes to Editors: 

The report Summary Case for a New Cross-Border Rail Link is attached. Reproduction in full or in part is authorised, please credit CampaignforBordersRail.org”. 

The Borders Railway is largely on the trackbed of the northern third of the Waverley Route that closed in 1969 between Edinburgh and Carlisle through Galashiels and Hawick. There is a deviation from the original alignment between Edinburgh and Midlothian to serve a new development at Shawfair. There are stations at Tweedbank, Galashiels, Stow, Gorebridge, Newtongrange, Eskbank and Shawfair and Borders trains also serve stations in Edinburgh at Newcraighall, Brunstane and Waverley. The Borders Railway was formally opened by the Queen on 9 September 2015, a few days after initial passengers were carried by ScotRail. Politicians from different political parties have welcomed a study recently announced by the Scottish Government agency Transport Scotland into the potential for transport investment including on the Borders Railway.

News Media contacts for CBR:

Allan McLean, phone 07531 129892 or email allanpmclean@gmail.com

Simon Walton, phone 07540 313018 or email waltonsg@uwclub.net


 

RAIL MONITORING GROUP ATTACKS BORDERS RAILWAY ‘FORECASTING FAILURE’

 

Press release from Borders Rail Monitor – for immediate publication 3rd December 2016

RAIL MONITORING GROUP ATTACKS BORDERS RAILWAY ‘FORECASTING FAILURE’

Responding to ScotRail announcements [1] on the first year’s patronage of the Borders Railway and the planned introduction of extra coaches on the line’s trains, David Spaven of the Borders Rail Monitor group [2] commented:

‘The big story here is the shocking failure of rail forecasting. All three Borders stations have performed massively better than forecast [3] – by a factor of more than seven times better in the case of Tweedbank, and more than four times better at both Galashiels and Stow.

‘But all four stations in Midlothian, with the exception of Newtongrange, have had substantially fewer passengers than expected. This is in part a reflection of the poor levels of reliability on the Borders Railway, with Midlothian stations being particularly affected by trains which skip intermediate stops in order to catch up time. At Newtongrange, which performed relatively close to forecast – the only station on the new railway to do so – this almost certainly reflects the local leisure and tourist market, with passengers to the Scottish Mining Museum being less concerned about rail reliability than regular commuters. And rail in Midlothian has to compete with much more intensive bus services than are available from the Borders to Edinburgh.

‘Borders people continue to use the railway in large numbers despite its reliability problems, demonstrating the extent to which bus and car competition to Edinburgh is constrained by road congestion. In the case of Galashiels, for example, the train is more than half an hour faster to Edinburgh than the competing X95 bus. And the regularly full-to-overflowing car park at Tweedbank station demonstrates that demand for rail is probably now being suppressed at the line’s terminus.

‘It is encouraging that Transport Scotland is now – at long last – reviewing its rail forecasting techniques. But if we had had robust forecasting five years ago, the Borders stations’ forecasts would not have been so ludicrously pessimistic, the rail project’s business case would have been far better, double track on the Borders Railway would not have been cut back from 16 miles to nine and a half miles, and the railway would have been much more reliable than it has proved to be in practice.’

Commenting on the planned introduction of additional coaches on some trains, Mr Spaven said:

‘The strengthening of some trains is very welcome, but not all the key overcrowded trains are being tackled, and the overall increase in daily seating capacity is actually less than 5%. With their Performance Improvement Plan underway, ScotRail need to be planning for further increases in train capacity as service reliability improves. The decision to replace the unsatisfactory 2-coach Class 158 trains with 3-coach Class 170 trains once the Edinburgh-Glasgow line is electrified is very good news, but Borders Railway travellers need to see more of the superior Class 170s well before the 2017-18 electrification.’

MORE INFO: David Spaven on 0131 447 7764

NOTES FOR EDITORS:
[1] In a press release on 2nd December 2016, ScotRail indicated “that 1.3m passenger journeys were made on the Borders line in the first 12 months of operation, broadly in line with business case projections” and announced that “2,700 extra seats each week” will be provided on the Borders Railway through the strengthening of selected trains.
[2] The Borders Rail Monitor group is led by rail campaigners Bill Jamieson and David Spaven, who were long-time activists with the Campaign for Borders Rail and the Waverley Route Trust. They have been monitoring performance since late-October 2015, using data from the Realtime Trains web site, which in turn uses Network Rail data. Their key findings include:

· ‘Right Time’ arrivals at Tweedbank station (ie within 1 minute of schedule, or not more than 59 seconds late) have never exceeded 66.2% across any one week

· ‘Right Time’ arrivals at Edinburgh Waverley station have never exceeded 49.8% across any one week

· Not since May 2016 has the Borders Railway experienced a week without any train cancellations.

[3] The table below shows Transport Scotland’s 2012 Business Case forecasts for Year 1, ScotRail’s actual patronage figures for Year 1, and the actual v. forecast variance. Please note that ScotRail have not provided the data for travel from Haymarket and Edinburgh Park stations to Borders Railway stations, so there are clearly more passengers using the Borders Railway than the 1,306,750 total presented here.

img_3548

Monitoring group has published report on ‘seriously underperforming’ Borders Railway

 

Press release from Borders Rail Monitor

In 45 weeks out of 52 since late-October 2015, train services on the new Borders Railway from Tweedbank to Edinburgh failed to meet ScotRail’s contractual punctuality target of 92.5% of trains arriving within 5 minutes of schedule, a new report [1] has revealed. The report, by Borders Rail Monitor, also shows that on 40 weeks Edinburgh-Tweedbank services failed to meet the punctuality target – known as the Public Performance Measure (PPM) – while Borders Railways trains were cancelled on 47 weeks.

The report was co-written by rail campaigners David Spaven and Bill Jamieson [2], and is based on one year’s monitoring of performance from late-October 2015 to late-October 2016, using data from the Realtime Trains web site [3], which in turn uses Network Rail data. Their main conclusion is that: ‘Overall, the evidence to date suggests that it is extremely difficult to consistently operate the Borders Railway to timetable.’ The authors argue that while Abellio, the operator of ScotRail, has been the target of most media criticism:

‘…it is important to acknowledge deeper underlying factors for which Abellio cannot be held responsible. It was, for example, Transport Scotland which determined the constrained infrastructure specification for the Borders Railway and the decision to deploy Class 158 units – the least reliable diesel units in Scotland – for a route with steep gradients and multiple stops on every train service.’

Other key performance results revealed by the report include:

· ‘Right Time’ arrivals at Tweedbank station (ie within 1 minute of schedule, or not more than 59 seconds late) never exceeded 66.2% across any one week

· Right Time arrivals at Edinburgh Waverley station never exceeded 49.8% across any one week

The authors criticise Transport Scotland’s decision to cut back the 30½-mile line’s infrastructure specification from 16 miles of double track to just 9½ miles, and contrast this with the 6½ miles of new roads – paid for by the rail project – having been built ‘to the highest possible standards’. They suggest that the track cut-back was ‘a response to the supposedly poor Business Case for the railway, which was in part a consequence of seriously flawed patronage forecasting for Transport Scotland, particularly in the case of the Borders stations.’ Actual recorded patronage in the first six months of operation was 869% above forecast at Tweedbank, 409% above at Galashiels, and 375% above at Stow, despite the service quality problems.

The authors suggest a range of actions needed [4] from the main stakeholders – ScotRail, Network Rail and Transport Scotland – to address the ‘serious operational underperformance’ of the Borders Railway, and recommend that ScotRail should commission passenger satisfaction surveys, encompassing both continuing passengers and lapsed passengers who have abandoned the Borders train service due to poor service quality relative to alternatives such as the car and the bus.

The report – which has been submitted to Transport Scotland and the ScotRail Alliance (with Network Rail) – also notes that in September 2016, Scotland’s Transport Minister instructed ScotRail to deliver a recovery plan for the Borders Railway, but the authors say ‘it is too early to conclude whether this is having a significant impact. However, not since late May 2016 has a week passed without a train cancellation, nor have Tweedbank-Edinburgh trains achieved the PPM target across any one week since early May, a period of over 5½ months.’

MORE INFO:

David Spaven on 0131-447-7764 or 07917-877399
Bill Jamieson on 01578-730262

NOTES FOR EDITORS:

[1] The ‘Borders Railway Performance – Year 1 Report’ is attached here: borders-railway-performance-year-1-report

[2] Bill Jamieson and David Spaven campaigned (individually, and with the Campaign for Borders Rail and the Waverley Route Trust) for the return of the railway over a period of more than 20 years from the mid-1990s until the opening of the line in 2015.

[3] http://www.realtimetrains.co.uk/about

[4] The report sets out 15 short, medium and long term actions to improve performance, including redeploying, as soon as possible, more reliable 3-car Class 170 units to the Borders to replace 2-car Class 158s, and in the longer term (from 2019) doubling the single-track pinch point at Portobello Junction on the East Coast Main Line (ECML), increasing capacity on the congested ECML section from Portobello Junction to Waverley station, and extending the length of double track on the Borders Railway itself.

END OF RELEASE.

Borders transport study should focus on rail potential

 

The Campaign for Borders Rail appreciates that there are many and varied transport needs in the Scottish Borders.  

A campaign spokesman said: “The resounding success of the new railway in tapping into huge and unpredicted demand for rail travel is a clear indication of the potential for capitalising on that success, which can only be achieved by extending the line southwards to benefit a larger catchment area.  The consideration of possible road improvements across the region, for example to tackle accident black-spots, should be a separate exercise and should not be allowed to affect or diminish the Scottish Government’s clear commitment to examine the feasibility of extending the new railway.”

The Campaign for Borders Rail welcomes confirmation that significantly more people have used the Borders Railway between Tweedbank and Edinburgh in its first year of operation than was formally expected. The campaign is also looking forward to the results of a promised study into the potential for railway development in the Borders.

“The return of trains is incredibly popular in the Scottish Borders. The line has boosted the economies of the Borders and Midlothian. This proves that people were right to argue for so long in favour of railway services. The time has now come to enhance the existing route to match the level of demand and to prepare for the extension of tracks to serve more communities by train,” said Allan McLean, the retired railway manager who chairs the Campaign for Borders Rail (CBR).

Politicians from different political parties have backed the concept of a study into the potential for extension of the railway. For example, it was widely reported that on a visit to Hawick earlier this year, the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said that it made sense to look at extending the line to other communities in view of the success of the existing route.

Notes to Editors: The Borders Railway is largely on the trackbed of the northern third of the Waverley Route that closed in 1969 between Edinburgh and Carlisle through Galashiels and Hawick. There is a deviation from the original alignment between Edinburgh and Midlothian to serve a new development at Shawfair. There are stations at Tweedbank, Galashiels, Stow, Gorebridge, Newtongrange, Eskbank and Shawfair and Borders trains also serve stations in Edinburgh at Newcraighall, Brunstane and Waverley. The Borders Railway was formally opened by the Queen on 9 September 2015, a few days after initial passengers were carried by ScotRail.

News Media contact for the CBR: Allan McLean, phone 07531 129 892 or email allanpmclean@gmail.com

Borders Railway One Year On

MSPs elected May 2016

Members of the Scottish Parliament from May 2016, Campaign for Borders Rail

MSPs from different parties are of interest to supporters of the Campaign for Borders Rail who seek enhancement of the line that opened last September and extension of the role of rail in the Scottish Borders. During the election campaign in the weeks running up to 5 May 2016, there was cross-party support for the aims of CBR, including a proposed study into rail extension. This offers encouragement for the future, regardless of party affiliations.

Some 73 MSPs, Members of the Scottish Parliament, have been elected on the first-past-the-post constituency system, while 56 others have been elected through regional lists of names put forward by different political parties.

Following the election to the Scottish Parliament on 5 May, the SNP is the biggest single party with 63 seats. The Conservatives are in second place with 31 seats and Labour third with 24. There are also six Green MSPs and five LibDems. MSPs were sworn in on 12 May.

Three stations that were already there in Edinburgh are in two constituencies. The seven new Borders Railway stations are in two constituencies. Other stations that could potentially be opened or reopened within Scottish Borders are in some cases in another constituency. Two regional list areas are of interest: Lothian and South Scotland.

These are the Lothian list MSPs: Jeremy Balfour (Conservative), Miles Briggs (Conservative), Kezia Dugdale (Labour), Neil Findlay (Labour), Alison Johnstone (Green), Gordon Lindhurst (Conservative) and Andy Wightman (Green). And the South Scotland list MSPs: Claudia Beamish (Labour), Rachael Hamilton (Conservative), Emma Harper (SNP), Joan McAlpine (SNP), Colin Smyth (Labour), Paul Wheelhouse (SNP) and Brian Whittle (Conservative).

Stations at Tweedbank, Galashiels, Stow, Gorebridge and Newtongrange are in the Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale constituency where the MSP continues to be the SNP’s Christine Grahame.

The Midlothian stations at Eskbank and Shawfair are in Midlothian North and Musselburgh, held again by Colin Beattie MSP, SNP.

Newcraighall and Brunstane are in Edinburgh Eastern, where the SNP’s Kenny MacAskill has stood down and has been followed by a new SNP MSP, Ash Denham.

Edinburgh Waverley is in Edinburgh Central, where the SNP’s Marco Biagi stood down. The new MSP is Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party.

Hawick, Kelso and Reston are among potential stations in Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, where the Scottish Conservatives’ John Lamont has been re-elected as MSP.

Note that RAGES, Rail Action Group East of Scotland, is on the case for proposed new stations on the East Coast Main Line at East Linton (East Lothian) and Reston (in the Eastern Scottish Borders). There is a suggestion that the new cross-border franchise of First Group’s TransPennine could take on one or more of these stations instead of Abellio ScotRail.

The total number of MSPs is 129. All MSPs have the same status, whether elected on a regional list or for a specific constituency. The next Scottish Parliament election is due to be in May 2021. Scottish council elections are in May 2017.

Allan P McLean, Campaign for Borders Rail                                                12 May 2016

Flying Scotsman – visit to Borders Railway

PRESS RELEASE 1100hrs, 14 May 2016
IMMEDIATE RELEASE
A Huge Insult To Scotland
Campaigners say Network Rail has completely failed to understand the vast ramifications of cancelling the Flying Scotsman visit to Borders and calls for a public enquiry.
Campaign for Borders Rail says nothing short of a public enquiry will satisfy the anger felt across the community at the failure by Network Rail to make the necessary preparations of the visit of Flying Scotsman to the Borders Railway.  In a statement, the Campaign said Network Rail was paid public money to build the Borders Railway and make it suitable for Flying Scotsman and other steam locomotives to make occasional journeys to help boost Scottish tourism.
Allan McLean, Chairman of the Campaign for Borders Rail, noted: “Network Rail says it never had enough time to arrange for an event a lot of people had been looking forward to for months.  Network Rail is using its own incompetence to try to justify the unjustifiable.  There’s a two-word Scottish response to this insult: Aye, right!”
Allan McLean added there was no excuse for this failure to perform the job the infrastructure company was employed to do.  “This is a massive insult to Scotland,” he said.  “From the distant vantage point of Network Rail HQ in Milton Keynes, this represents nothing more than yet another administrative error resulting in the cavalier cancellation of a charter train, for which several hundred people have paid premium fares to enjoy a spacial day out.  What they have totally failed to comprehend is the iconic nature of this particular visit, and the tens of thousands of visitors this particular occasion would bring to the Borders.”
The Campaign, which is still working vigorously to see the Borders Railway extended through Hawick to Carlisle, has been heavily involved in lobbying for charter facilities on the railway and is actively engaged in the tourism effort for the line.
Simon Walton, past chairman and the Campaign’s representative on the Scottish Borders Tourism Partnership, articulated the wider implications of this cancellation.  “It’s not just the passengers on the charter and the organisers and operators of the train that have been inexcusably let down,” he said.  “The whole Borders community has gotten behind the tourism potential of the line.  This excursion represented one of the biggest opportunities yet to use the line as a huge tourism boost for the Borders.”
Mr Walton added: “Far more than a charter train, of which there have been many already on the line, this was a showcase event, particularly for the town of Galashiels, where huge effort has gone into promoting and commemorating the visit.  This has let down residents, businesses, local authorities and tens of thousands of would-be visitors.  It’s a massive publicly blow for the Borders.  Network Rail cannot be allowed to stand aloof from this deplorable dereliction of duty.”
Allan McLean noted that given the public funding of the railway, and the leading role taken by Network Rail, their behaviour must be brought to account.  “This is a huge insult to Scotland by an organisation that has zero credibility, unalloyed by its huge efforts to spin its repeated failures in many aspects of running and developing the national railway network.  There must be corporate accountability to the people of the Borders and Scotland, and individuals must pay with their careers for this gross incompetence.  We demand the regulator, the Office of Rail and Road, investigate their conduct, and a public enquiry needs to be convened so this autonomous juggernaut is brought to book.”
Contacts:
Allan McLean, CBR Chairman 07531 129892
Simon Walton, CBR Spokesman 07540 313018
Notes to Editors

The Campaign for Borders Rail (CBR), established in 1998, is one of Britain’s most successful grassroots rail campaigns. CBR’s initial aim will be realised on 6th September 2015 when ScotRail services begin running over the new Borders Railway from Tweedbank and Galashiels to Edinburgh – bringing trains back after an absence of more than 45 years. CBR’s next objective is to see the railway extended to Hawick and Carlisle, completing the return of the Waverley Route closed in 1969 as part of the ‘Beeching cuts’ – which saw the Borders become the only region of Britain without a rail service, and left Galashiels and Hawick further from the rail network than any other towns of their size in Britain. www.campaignforbordersrail.org .

As well as the core strategic achievement of the return of a railway from Edinburgh through Midlothian to Tweedbank, local rail campaigners – notably CBR, Stow Station Supporters Group and the Waverley Route Trust – can take credit for some important supporting successes, a number of them achieved in the face of official resistance:

first coining the ‘Borders Railway’ name (in 2003)

persuading Parliament to include a station stop at Stow when none was to be provided (the Scottish Parliament passed the Waverley Railway (Scotland) Act in 2006)

saving of the original 1849 station building at Stow from demolition (2011), with the potential for beneficial community re-use

Tweedbank station track layout redesigned to take 12-coach tourist trains, providing the basic infrastructure needed to bring additional tourist spend to the Borders (2012)

a requirement for the new ScotRail train operator to accommodate ‘paths’ for tourist charter trains to fit in with the regular service timetable (2013)

cutting the maximum waiting time at the A7 pedestrian crossing from bus to rail stations in Gala from 90 to 30 seconds, improving convenience and safety for rail passengers (2013)

the first train of the day to Edinburgh retimed to provide a robust connection into the 06.25 service to London (2014)

persuading Transport Scotland that the Class 158 trains should be refurbished to provide better window/seat matching and enhanced luggage/cycle space (2014).