RAIL campaigners have urged the Scottish Government to provide early re-assurance that train services on the planned Borders Railway are not to be slowed down as a rumoured economy measure.
The Campaign for Borders Rail (CBR) has written to Transport Minister Keith Brown in light of rumours that the Government agency, Transport Scotland, is planning to save capital costs on the scheme by reducing the length of crossing loops on the railway, increasing journey times between the Borders and the Capital.
In his letter CBR Chair, Lorne Anton says: “Longer train journey times will reduce patronage and deter a modal shift by motorists from car to train… the Campaign is seriously concerned that the rail project will not be allowed to realise its full economic, social and environmental potential.”
The letter also raises the possibility that the line’s terminus at Tweedbank Station may not be capable of handling full-length tourist charter trains, with the resultant loss of economic benefits to the Borders and Midlothian .
Responding to anticipated suggestions that there would be later – post opening – opportunities to put right initial deficiencies in the specification for the railway, Anton comments: “implementing enhancements in an operational railway is much more expensive than doing the job properly at the outset.”
CBR is urging the Scottish Government to provide early re-assurance that the journey time from Tweedbank to Edinburgh , and from Edinburgh to Tweedbank, will be the maximum 55minutes laid down in the project specification in 2009, and that a way will be found to properly accommodate the tourist charter train market on the Borders Railway.