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.