Press Release – 5 February 2020

Campaign for Borders Rail Newsletter 61

Headlines include:

• Two million passengers

• Operational issues

• Extension to Carlisle

• Congratulations for Stow community

• Harsh words from local councillor

• Channel 5 features line AUDIO INTERVIEW with Rob Bell LINK:

The Campaign for Borders Rail, the group that successfully lobbies for the building of the Borders Railway in Scotland, and continues to monitor performance, and seek extension through Hawick to Carlisle, welcomes figures that show record patronage. That is the headline story in the Campaign’s latest newsletter, sent to its membership today (attached).

Chair of the Campaign, Simon Walton, is quoted, saying: “We always said that the Borders Railway would be far more popular than predicted by the discredited business case, and so it has proved, yet again.”

The figures come from the Office of Rail and Road, and Campaigners say they further strengthen the case for extending the line and making it a new cross-border link, effectively reinstating the former route that connected communities in Edinburgh, Midlothian, the Scottish Borders, Dumfries and Galloway Cumbria and Carlisle.

Chair Simon Walton adds: “The Campaign has long argued tat this is not just a railway project, and that Campaigners recognise the far wider benefits that building this railway will accrue. The strategic benefits of this railway project cannot be underestimated. It is not just about reconnecting communities it is about economic regeneration on a regional scale, about social inclusion and about environmental sustainability It is about providing opportunities for generations yet to come. Most of all it is a tangible way to achieve the economic growth and environmental sustainability that is on everyone’s agenda.”

The newsletter also goes on to praise the community grounded projects within the Sottish Borders, such as the reinvigoration of the station buildings in the village of Stow – a community that the Campaign directly challenged the promoters to serve, and successfully lobbied for the retention of the historic buildings on the station site. The newsletter also features a personal perspective from former Stow resident and local councillor Sandy Aitchison, which pulls no punches in decrying the shortcomings of the line as it stands: “ I was told it was the Waverley Line’s return. It was not!”

Further news includes the second meeting of the Borderlands Growth Initiative, in which the Campaign takes an active role; the Campaign’s highly successful 20th anniversary AGM; the forthcoming Channel 5 series Walking Britain’s Lost Railways – presenter Rob Bell gave an exclusive audio interview to Simon Walton – also linked here — in which he praises the work fo the Campaign and recognises the generational benefits of bringing rails back to the Borders as a whole.

Campaign AGM told completion to Carlisle ‘nailed on’ – Press Release – 8 October 2019

 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 / 07917161762

Simon Walton, chairman

‘The Campaign for Borders Rail one of the most successful grassroots rail campaigns in Great Britain’

℅ Future Hawick, 2 Kirk Wynd, Hawick TD9 0AL

Campaign for Borders Rail’s latest newsletter published – Press Release 1 September 2019

Ten million pounds for feasibility study, and ten thousand pounds to fund the Campaign.
Campaign for Borders Rail launches Onward To Carlisle fundraiser, and governments pledge funds for long awaited feasibility study to extend Borders Railway to Carlisle, as Campaign prepares to hold 20th anniversary AGM. These are the top stories for the Campaign’s latest newsletter.
Feasibility Study
Governments in Holyrood and Westminster have pledged to fund a cross-border feasibility study, as part of the Borderlands Growth Deal funding package. “Our biggest success since securing the reinstatement of the Borders Railway to Tweedbank,” said Campaign vice-chair Marion Short. “The Campaign’s efforts have helped win substantial funding for cross-border feasibility work on extending the line to Carlisle.”
The long-term benefits of the Deal aim to reach all parts of the Borderlands area. Marion Short adds that rail development will be the most tangible way to deliver significant and lasting benefits for individuals, businesses and communities. “Those living in the Scottish Borders south
of Tweedbank where currently communities do not enjoy a railway facility and residents there express a general feeling of social isolation,” she added.
In a busy newsletter, that’s unsurprisingly the lead story for the Campaign’s 1500 paying members. Those members will have an opportunity to express their views at the Campaign’s 20th Anniversary AGM and Celebration, being held in Edinburgh on 8 October.
“The generosity and commitment of the membership continues to impress me,” said Simon Walton, the Campaign chair. “They’ve consistently contributed to the running of the Campaign, but the financial burden of engaging with governments and agencies up and down the country cannot be borne solely but those dedicated individuals. We have ten times that number who informally support the Campaign, so we’ve launched a wider fundraising initiative to let that wider body offer support, even if they don’t feel they can commit to full membership.”
The Onward To Carlisle Fund is hosted by with a target of £10,000 aimed at underwriting the Campaign’s engagement with stakeholders as the project moves through the critical feasibility study phase. “We are entirely voluntary, and we’re lobbying for the biggest development project in Britain without any paid officers,” said Simon Walton. “That’s not a boast, it’s a tribute to the commitment of the individuals involved with the Campaigner for Borders Rail. After twenty years, they deserve a celebration, and not a penny raised will even go towards paying for so much as the cake.”
Operations “13 minutes from Longtown”
Also in edition 60, there’s an in-depth look at the technicalities of operating an extended Borders Railway, by CBR’s Robert Drysdale. Speaking of a journey from Edinburgh, he said: “We estimate that a full-line run through to Carlisle would take around one hour and 50 minutes. At the south end of the line, journey times to Carlisle would be around 48 minutes from Hawick, 25 minutes
from Newcastleton and 13 minutes from Longtown.”
South Borders committee member Greg Cuthbert details the extensive programme of Campaign liaison, from community and commerce, to local council and ministerial committee briefings. “We carry on campaigning to see improvements in educational choice, social inclusion and employment prospects, and all the other opportunities that will come with the return of the railway,” he said, speaking as a guest of Stobart Group at the opening of Carlisle Lake District Airport.
Newsletter 60 is attached.
[Newsletter 60  has been circulated to members of  Campaign for Borders Rail]
PRESS CONTACT: Simon Walton 07540 313018

Onward to Carlisle Fund – Campaign launches funding drive online : Press Release 27 August 2019

Onward to Carlisle Fund
Campaign launches funding drive online
With around £2,500 already raised among members, the Campaign for Borders Rail today launched its Onward to Carlisle Fund via the online platform
Speaking at the lunchtime launch, Simon Walton, the Campaign’s chair, said that the pressure was on the Campaign to deliver. “We are closer than ever to seeing our goal achieved,” he said. “With the recent pledge from Westminster and Holyrood for a £10m feasibility study, it’s up to us to make sure this project does not get derailed.”
The Campaign seeks to build on the success of the opening in 2015 of the Borders Railway between Edinburgh and Tweedbank. The focus now is on extending that line to directly serve the Borders through Hawick and on to Carlisle.
“This voluntary organisation is working harder than ever, to engage with full-time agencies in England and Scotland,” said Mr Walton. “We intend to play a meaningful part in informing a feasibility study, and putting forward the best possible case for communities throughout the Borders, as well as the strategic case for building a new cross-border rail link, that best facilitates economic growth, social inclusion and environmental sustainability. Our modest funding requirements are met entirely by our members and supporters, and that’s why the Onward to Carlisle Fund is so important to the Campaign. We need to see this railway established within years, not decades, and we need to take our message further into the national agenda right now,” he said.
The Borders has been without a direct rail service since what was known as the Waverley Route and all its branches closed in 1969. Since then, the region has been in economic decline and the remaining rail network has suffered from the lack of alternatives to the busy East and West coastal routes that entirely bypasses the 100,000 residents in the region. The Campaign for Borders Rail has lobbied for the past twenty years to reinstate that link for the benefit of the Borders, the UK national rail network and for future generations. To support the effort, visit and simply search “Campaign for Borders Rail”.
PRESS CONTACT: Simon Walton 07540 313018

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


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 (

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
07540 313018


Campaign concerns on overcrowding as Borders Railway growth continues – 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 /

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

Campaign for Borders Rail Onwards through Hawick to Carlisle 

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