Campaign for Borders Rail – Press Release 4 February 2018

Campaign for Borders Rail Press Release – immediate release 4 February 2018
[This press release refers to Issue 55 of Campaign for Borders Rail’s Newsletter which was circulated to CBR members on 3 February.]
Campaigners Rail on to Carlisle 
With government and local authority support, the Campaign for Borders Rail is looking south, all the way through Hawick to Carlisle, in the organisation’s latest newsletter. Building on the success of the Borders Railway between Edinburgh and Tweedbank, the grassroots campaign with wide support throughout the community, business and government, has shifted the focus of it’s efforts to concentrate resources on seeking extension of the line and creating a new, strategic cross-border rail link.
Stories include AGM panellists from across the community; notes from across the Border; and reflections on the importance of rail services past and present
Westminster’s Department for Transport hosted Campaigners, making the national strategic case for joining the West Coast Main Line at Carlisle to the Borders Railway at Tweedbank, near Galashiels.
The AGM, held recently in Hawick, featured a panel of guests, answering questions from the audience. Panelists were: Cllr. Colin Glover (Leader Carlisle City Council), Alex Hynes (MD ScotRail), Rachael Hamilton MSP, and Cllr. Watson McAteer (Scottish Borders Council and Provost of Hawick). Both John Lamont and Watson McAteer have contributed features to the newsletter
John Lamont, MP for Berwick Roxburgh and Selkirk writes in the newsletter,  arguing for early commencement on extension and pledging to follow up the Campaign’s visit to Westminster with Transport Secretary Chris Grayling.
Watson McAteer, Provost for Hawick and Scottish Borders Councillor says the economic cooperation of the Borderlands Initiative is the key strategic driver to the successful reinstatement of railway services in the southern Borders. “The test will be in
the willingness of the Scottish and Westminster governments to work together to bring real benefit to communities located at the political extremities,” he said. “I am sure these initiatives will focus on a number of economic and social opportunities. The first priority must be an effective transport link. What better way of demonstrating real commitment than by righting a 1969 wrong and reinstating our Waverley Line.”
There’s tourism developments in Midlothian, with plans to rehabilitate station buildings in Newtongrange and Gorebridge. Featured is Sam Smith, the Borders Railway Blueprint Manager. She has been working on the future business benefits of the line and meets
regularly with members of the other groups with a £10m investment to promote the region and funding shared with the other supporting bodies.
In a special interview, Driver team manager at Tweedbank, Russell Storrie, gives an operational insight into the running of the Borders Railway. There’s also a passenger’s perspective from Michael Spencer, the Campaign’s Volunteer Coordinator, who emphasises that the Campaign remains the Borders Railway’s closest ally, and also it’s keenest watchdog.
Simon Walton, the Campaign’s Chairman, noted the recent winter weather, and recalled how important the railway had been in maintaining communications and commerce, no matter what the conditions. “We are less than a year away from the 50th anniversary of the savage pruning that removed all of the Borders railways. That’s why the Campaign is more active than ever, more influential than ever, and needs your support more than ever. It’s time for us to ask the question once again and argue the case for early extension through Hawick to Carlisle.”
Pictures are available in support of all the above stories.
For further details, comment and questions, contact Simon Walton on 07540 313018 or email

Campaign for Borders Rail – Press Release – 21 October 2017

Campaign for Borders Rail

Press Release

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Campaign Given Mandate to Carlisle

Guests Alex Hynes (ScotRail MD); Rachael Hamilton MSP; Cllr Colin Glover (Carlisle CC); and Hawick Provost Watson McAteer (Scottish Borders Council) make passionate pleas for extension through Hawick to Carlisle.

The unanimous vote of the membership gave the Campaign for Borders Rail leave to continue pressing the case for a new cross-border rail link via the Scottish Borders, by extending the Edinburgh – Tweedbank (Borders Railway) through Hawick to Carlisle. The vote was taken as the climax to the Campaign’s AGM, held before an enthusiastic audience at the Heart of Hawick.

A panel of four prominent guests took part in a ‘question time’ styled debate, answering questions posed by the membership at large.

Watson McAteer, Provost of Hawick said that a railway would bring benefits to the community in Hawick, and provide a catalyst for economic growth.

His counterpart, Colin Glover, Carlisle City Council Leader, reiterated the importance of improved communications between the Cumbrian capital and the Scottish Borders. A new link would provide better opportunities for all communities served, including adding appeal to Carlisle as a destination for business and leisure.

Rachael Hamilton, the MSP for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, said that the line represented a vital step for the Borders. She praised the professional approach of the Campaign, in it’s continued lobby to keep the argument for extension on the public agenda.

Alex Hynes, Managing Director of ScotRail Alliance said that the 2.6million journeys made on the existing Borders Railway, in the two years siunce opening, proved there was demand for services in the Borders. He noted that improvements, such as longer trains, were in the planning pipeline, and said his role would certainly involve him in any service planning for an extended Borders Railway.

Simon Walton, who was elected for a second stint as Chair of the Campaign for Borders Rail, said this would be a pivotal year for CBR. He said that with a Scottish Government backed transport study expected in the New Year, it was crucial that the Campaign be methodical in its response. The recommendations, he said, were by no means assured to be positive towards railway development. However, the new chairman praised the efforts of Campaigners, who recently raised paid-up membership to an all-time high of over 1000. He said the weight of expectation was now firmly on the Campaign’s shoulders, and that remaining focused, committed and confident were the keys to seeing their ultimate goal achieved.

Notes to Editors:
The report Summary Case for a New Cross-Border Rail Link is available to download at

The Borders Railway is the northern part of the Waverley Route that closed in 1969 between Edinburgh and Carlisle through Galashiels and Hawick. It was formally opened by Her Majesty the Queen on 9 September 2015.

News Media contacts for CBR:
Allan McLean, phone 07531 129892 or email
Simon Walton, phone 07540 313018 or email

Campaign for Borders Rail
Onwards through Hawick to Carlisle
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Campaign for Borders Rail – Press Release 10 October 2017

Today, 10 October 2017, the Campaign for Borders Rail reached the milestone of 1000 members, representing a three-fold increase in membership since the Borders Railway opened.
Membership is at an all-time high. Campaign spokesman, Simon Walton, said this was a clear call to continue working for a through route across the Borders. He said: “We have always looked on the huge success the Borders Railway as a first phase towards our commitment to a railway that connects Edinburgh, Midlothian, the Borders and Carlisle. The full economic benefit, and the potential for a socially inclusive and sustainable network, can only be fully achieved by completing the rest of the line. The surge in our paid-up membership, and the many thousands who view, follow and contribute to our social media channels prove there is an unfulfilled desire to give the Borders the boost they need through completion of this railway project.”
Hard working membership secretary, Dave Adams, says the Campaign can still welcome new supporters, and he is already working towards the next millennium of members. He said that distribution of the Campaign’s well received document ‘Summary Case for a New Cross Border Rail Link’ had proved a popular recruiting tool as well. He said: “New members were offered a hard copy of the Summary Case, and it is already proving a valuable tool for promoting and explaining the Campaign case. I still urge existing members to recruit friends and family, and to see the Campaign as a tangible way to help regenerate the Borders.”
The Campaign newsletter (attached), already nominated for national awards, features an exclusive interview with Alex Hynes, the recently appointed managing director of the ScotRail Alliance. Already taking to the limelight, Alex Hynes said he was looking forward to the unique challenge of running Scotland’s main rail operator. He said: “It’s like no other railway operation in Britain. It’s a unique challenge. From the intense commuter services around Glasgow, to the Far North Lines, and, yes, the Borders. Everywhere is different and has different needs.”
AGM speakers include Alex Hynes. He will join a panel that includes Colin Glover, Leader of Carlisle City Council; Watson McAteer, Honorary Provost of Hawick; and Rachel Hamilton, MSP for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire. The AGM, at the Heart of Hawick is at 1pm on Saturday 21 October (formal business, open to members only) and a public session at 2.30pm featuring a ‘question time’ styled discussion with the panel of speakers. Members will again be given priority for seating at the venue. Simon Walton said the popularity of the AGM shows no sign of abating. He said: “For the third time in four years, we are heading for a full house. There is no denying the enthusiasm and desire among the Borders community. we will be seeking a further mandate from the membership to continue our campaign work. I’m confident of a very healthy endorsement for that motion.”
Notes to Editors: 
The report Summary Case for a New Cross-Border Rail Link is available to download at


The Borders Railway is the northern part of the Waverley Route that closed in 1969 between Edinburgh and Carlisle through Galashiels and Hawick. It was formally opened by Her Majesty the Queen on 9 September 2015.

News Media contacts for CBR: 
Allan McLean, phone 07531 129892 or email
Simon Walton, phone 07540 313018 or email
Campaign for Borders Rail
Onwards through Hawick to Carlisle
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Carlisle and Campaign put Railway Development on the Agenda

Campaign for Borders Rail 

Press Release – Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Carlisle and Campaign put Railway Development on the Agenda
Carlisle City Council’s Leader, Cllr Colin Glover, has held joint talks with the Campaign for Borders Rail, agreeing to stimulate economic growth through reinstatement of the railway between Carlisle, Longtown, and the Scottish Borders.
The prospect of a reopened railway to Longtown, Hawick and Edinburgh took a significant step forward last week, when Carlisle City Council’s Leader met with the Campaign for Borders Rail, the group that successfully lobbied for the opening of the Borders Railway between Edinburgh and Tweedbank, and is working to have the line extended through Hawick to Carlisle. An initial survey, sponsored by the Scottish Government is already expected to indicate widespread public support. 
The meeting, hosted by Cllr Colin Glover, and chaired by the Campaign’s Allan McLean, confirmed a joint desire to see the line form the backbone of the Borderlands Initiative, the central-government backed plan for cross-border economic development. Connection with Carlisle, via Hawick, is the key aim of the Campaign’s recently published document, “Summary Case for a New Cross-Border Rail Link” which has already been widely received by governments, industry and communities set to benefit from the project.  
Cllr Glover said that a rebuilt line through Longtown and Hawick was a logical step forward from the safeguarding of the route in the Council’s existing Local Plan. “There are clear benefits for Carlisle,” he said. “Building a new line supports plans for growth all over the city and region. This would add significantly to economic growth in Longtown, the new air services from Carlisle, and our aims to encourage modal shift from road to rail for freight. This helps make Carlisle an even more vital part of the Northern Powerhouse.”
The Campaign is taking the case for completion of the line to governments in both Westminster and Holyrood. Campaign Chairman, Allan McLean said there are clear imperatives for both sides of the Border. “As part of an integrated plan for the Carlisle region, a rail link with the markets of the Borders makes perfect economic sense,” he said. “Both governments, five local authorities, and a broad support from industry and communities make taking the Borders Railway through Hawick to Carlisle an unequivocal case.”
Councillor Glover is set to address the Campaign AGM in Hawick on 21 October. Both bodies have meetings with UK and Scottish governments to press their joint case. 
Notes to Editors: 
The report Summary Case for a New Cross-Border Rail Link is available to download at
The Borders Railway is the northern part of the Waverley Route that closed in 1969 between Edinburgh and Carlisle through Galashiels and Hawick. It was formally opened by Her Majesty the Queen on 9 September 2015.
News Media contacts for CBR: 
Allan McLean, phone 07531 129892 or email
Simon Walton, phone 07540 313018 or email

Campaign for Borders Rail

Onwards through Hawick to Carlisle

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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”. 

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

Simon Walton, phone 07540 313018 or email




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


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

[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.


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.’


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


[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.


[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.