Rail re-openings have all been successful

SIR, - Catherine Home Macdonald states in her letter of December 22 that I am “misguided to criticise the Borders Parties support for Reston Station”. In fact I did not criticise their support for Reston re-opening but their lack of support for the Borders Railway.

As with all previous correspondence with the Borders Party she has produced not one scrap of evidence to prove that the re-opening will be “a waste of money.” She then goes on to say the line will not run as far as Carlisle – evidence produced, as usual none. Perhaps she has a crystal ball?

Fifteen years ago no-one in Scotland would have anticipated the re-opening of Airdrie–Bathgate, Alloa–Stirling, Hamilton–Larkhall, Laurencekirk, but these routes and stations are now re-opened and flourishing. The South East Scotland Economic Plan envisages an economic development area between Kelso, Gala and Hawick and it sees the re-opening of the rest of the route, from Tweedbank to Carlisle, as important to the success of that area. A former Scottish Transport Minister has said the full re-opening of the route is a “perfectly reasonable ambition.”

She then states the route will not carry freight. It is the Scottish Government’s stated policy to move freight from road to rail and the Campaign for Borders Rail, and others, have done much work to promote both freight and passenger charter potential of the Borders Railway. As a matter of interest she should know you can not build a railway without freight trains – how does she imagine you get 600ft lengths of rail to work site by any other means?

Finally, she says the re-opening “will make a mess of the A7.” She presumably is referring to the Fallahill Roundabouts which may add less than 20 seconds to a journey and cost the user 4p per journey. That really does make the Borders Party look, quite frankly, daft!

Despite the recession there has been a seven per cent increase in rail passenger numbers in the last year. The Scottish Government are spending large sums on rail electrification and engineering work to improve journey times between our cities, towns and rural communities by rail. But the Borders Party don’t want any of that rail investment to benefit the people of the central Borders or for those people to have direct access to an expanding and efficient rail network.

The Campaign for Borders Rail have consistently proved that the Scottish Governments rail re-openings, far from being “a waste of money” have all been a huge success with actual passenger use far in excess of predicted, business case, use. The predicted annual use for Stirling–Alloa was 155,000 but actual use is just short of 400,000.

The Borders Party, despite being asked many, many times, to provide verifiable evidence to back up their case, have consistently failed to do so and until they do their anti Borders Railway argument should be treated with the contempt it deserves.

LORNE ANTON,

Chair.

Campaign for Borders Rail.