ScotRail must pull out all the stops, says CBR

Train operator ScotRail needs to pull out all the stops to ensure that travellers new to rail get the best possible experience in the first weeks of the Borders Railway, says CBR in its latest press release in the lead-up to the opening of the railway. CBR office-bearers last week met Phil Verster, Managing Director of the ScotRail / Network Rail Alliance, to press the case for extra coaches to be added to trains for several weeks after trains begin running on 6th September, and for additional staff to be deployed on station platforms to help out passengers unfamiliar with rail travel.

For the full release, see: Press release 4 from Campaign for Borders Rail

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CBR ‘saved Government blushes on tourist traffic’

Tourist and leisure passengers – originally dismissed as of marginal importance – may now be a crucial factor in the success of the Borders Railway, says CBR in its latest press release. We argue that without our sustained campaigning to over-turn a downbeat verdict on tourist potential in the original railway feasibility study, the line would not have had enough track and platform capacity at Tweedbank for this crucial market. As a result, campaigners have ‘saved Scottish Government blushes’ over what would have been ‘an embarrassingly sub-optimal offer to the tourist market’.

For the full press release see: Aug 2015 CBR Release 3  

‘Danger that history gets rewritten’ says CBR

The key role played by community campaigners in the return of trains to the Borders should be properly acknowledged by the political establishment, says CBR in its latest press release. We say that ‘there is a danger that history gets rewritten so that the current Scottish Government gets all the credit for the Borders Railway, while the absolutely crucial role of unpaid grassroots campaigners over a 17-year period is forgotten’.

See the full release on CBR Press Release 2

CBR’s lessons for other campaigners ackowledged

CBR has urged campaigners lobbying for the re-opening of other rail lines in Scotland to learn the lessons of the 17-year Borders campaign culminating in the return of trains on 6th September 2015 – which CBR describes as ‘one of the greatest achievements of grassroots rail campaigning in British history’. And acknowledgment of our pioneering work has come from two campaigns in Fife which are hoping to be the next to put new routes on the Scottish railway map.

See: CBR Press Release 1

Rail author predicts Borders Railway tourist success

Launching the new edition of his book Waverley Route: the battle for the Borders Railway, author (and CBR activist) David Spaven argues that tourist and leisure passengers – originally dismissed as of marginal importance – may now be a crucial factor in the success of the Borders Railway: ‘The official traffic forecasts for the line are very conservative…and traffic modelling techniques really haven’t been able to address the non-commuting markets adequately…my feeling is that tourist and leisure passengers to the Borders stations and to Newtongrange – for the National Mining Museum – could be the key to the railway exceeding its patronage forecasts.’

David also praises the role of CBR in persuading the political establishment that tourism should be a central factor in the promotion of the railway, adding that ‘it would be good to see the key successes of Borders rail campaigners – largely unsung over the years – properly acknowledged during the re-opening celebrations on 4th to 6th September.’

Waverley Route: the battle for the Borders Railway – which is a 272-page paperback with a revised selection of over 100 illustrations – incorporates fresh archive material from the 1960s and reveals new insider insights into the political tensions throughout the 21-year battle to re-open the railway. It is available from Argyll Publishing on:

http://www.argyllbookstore.co.uk/index.php/2013-10-05-14-59-55/scottish-and-local/product/169-waverley-route-david-spaven-new-edition.html

CBR claims another campaign success

The ScotRail trains to be operated on the Borders Railway will be refurbished in line with units serving scenic Highland routes. CBR’s packed AGM in Gala on 6th November applauded the announcement by Mike Kean – UK Rail Development Director of Dutch company Abellio who take over the ScotRail franchise next May – that, in response to a request from Transport Scotland, the trains will be upgraded like units serving the Far North and Kyle lines.

Although not all will be refurbished in time for the start of Borders Railway service, this is very welcome news, and represents another campaign success for CBR. The Inverness-based Class 158s have a spacious ambience, with good alignment of seats to windows, plus additional space for bikes and luggage.
Simon Walton, chairman of CBR responded that refurbished trains would provide a much better experience for commuters and visitors alike. “We’ve lobbied for better trains all along,” he said. “This refurbishment announcement is seen as the latest significant success for our continued campaigning work.”

The full CBR release is on:

CBR 2014 AGM release

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First train to reach the Waverley Route since 1972

The first main-line train since 1972 has now reached the solum of the abandoned Waverley Route. Just after 14.30 on a wet Monday 13th October, GB Railfreight 66 736 propelled the tracklaying train through Kingsgate Points where the new Borders Railway alignment via Shawfair joins the original route from Millerhill, as shown in David Spaven’s photo below. The last previous train through here was a track recovery working in late 1972. [With apologies to the Waverley Route Heritage Association!]

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