Railway group celebrates 20 years of fighting for an extension
THE group seeking to restore the railway line through the Borders to Carlisle marked 20 years of campaigning at its AGM in Edinburgh.
The Campaign for Borders Rail held its first AGM in Edinburgh for more than 10 years.
Members were told that completing the main line from Tweedbank to Carlisle was ‘absolutely rock solid’.
That enthusiastic message came from Christine Grahame, MSP for Midlothian South, Tweedale and Lauderdale.
She has been an enthusiastic supporter of the campaign since it started.
The prospect of rebuilding the southern section, joining up with the existing Borders Railway from Edinburgh, would make a through route in the Scottish Borders a reality for the first time in 50 years.
Simon Walton, re-elected as chairman, said he shared that commitment and urged campaigners to ‘raise their game’ as they sought to ensure the promise of £10m for a feasibility study, made jointly by Holyrood and Westminster governments in September, remained top of the agenda and delivered a positive recommendation.
He said: “I’ve always regarded the existing railway as phase one of our ambition for the Borders.
“Getting a commitment to build the rest has to be our goal and we’re moving closer every day.
“The political climate has moved significantly in favour of environmentally sustainable economic development.
“Railway projects, like completing the Borders Railway, make even more sense as a means of rejuvenating communities, while greening the environment.”
Author David Spaven, who wrote the definitive history on the closure and rebirth of the line, delivered a presentation and concise history of The Borders Railway and 20 years of CBR.
He praised the campaign, particularly noting the successful case made for a station at Stow, and the concessions won to accommodate charter traffic.
“He criticised the cuts to bring the railway project in on budget and highlighted what he called inappropriate gold-plating on aspects of the project such as bridge structures designed for only one rail track, while also highlighting the extra costs of rectifying breaches to the line made in the intervening years.
Honoured guests included Hawick’s Madge Elliot, the emeritus campaigner, who organised a petition and presented it to Prime Minister Harold Wilson in Downing Street in December 1968, and environmental campaigner Petra Biberbach, the campaign’s first chairperson.
Petra and Simon cut a ceremonial birthday cake to mark the anniversary.