Borders Railway Extension

Discussion in 'Infrastructure & Stations' started by ItsGrimUpNorth, 9 Oct 2019.

  1. Brissle Girl

    Brissle Girl Member

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    They'll be cheering in the streets of Hawick the day it's extended there. Maybe it could be called the McLaren extension?
     
  2. railjock

    railjock Member

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    Hawick seems feasible as it would deliver regeneration and political benefits. Carlisle still seems pie in the sky.
     
  3. A0wen

    A0wen Established Member

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    Except Hawick will probably cost at least £ 250m to serve a population of 15,000 - and the intermediate places between Tweedbank and Hawick are very small as well.

    I can't see it passing any sensible benefits case.

    Add in the railway line goes a long way round to get to Hawick i.e. via St Boswells, whereas Hawick - Tweedbank as the crow flies is shorter via the A7.
     
  4. Brissle Girl

    Brissle Girl Member

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    The line would pass through Melrose, which has one of the largest tourist attractions in the area, Melrose Abbey. It could be argued that a shortcoming of the current line is that it stops just short of Melrose. eg if you put in to the Transport Scotland journey planner a journey from Edinburgh to the Abbey, it includes a 21 min wait for a bus, and then a 9 min journey. You could probably walk it in that half an hour, but pyschologically it will put people off using public transport. 1 hr 5 mins by train would sound much better.
     
  5. CaptainHaddock

    CaptainHaddock Established Member

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    Never mind tourist attractions, is it a marginal constituency? ;)
     
  6. railjock

    railjock Member

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    That’s why I included political considerations.
     
  7. A0wen

    A0wen Established Member

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    Even political considerations won't make that one wash its face. If it happened it would be an SNP vanity project, nothing more - it's a bigger waste of money than HS2 and that's saying something.
     
  8. kylemore

    kylemore Member

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    An SNP vanity project extending a Labour/Libdem vanity project - oh well at least everybody is getting their oar in!
     
  9. 47271

    47271 Established Member

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    He he, the original Waverley line was still operating then...
     
  10. 318259

    318259 Member

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    That's an awful lot of money to spend, for a line that runs through the middle of nowhere that nobody would use.

    Have you ever used the Carlisle to Glasgow via Dumfries and Kilmarnock line? This serves fewer and smaller places than that line.
     
  11. och aye

    och aye Member

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    I think its a bit unfair to call the current Borders Railway a vanity project. Don't get me wrong, most folk know the railway was a sweetener to get the Lib Dems on board with a coalition with Labour back in the early days of the Parliament. But has it not delivered any major benefits for those around the Gala area? My impressions were that it had, although if folk can provide evidence that it hasn't delivered, I'd be interested to read about it.
     
  12. railjock

    railjock Member

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    i think it has provided benefits throughout the line in both Midlothian and the Borders but whether they are enough to justify the cost depends on your perspective and lens.

    Now it’s built I doubt that it’s the biggest loss maker in the ScotRail area.
     
  13. deltic08

    deltic08 On Moderation

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    It provides a service to those living in the Borders that they have not had for 50 years and it is appreciated. It has also made it easier for tourists to visit. I used the line regularly to visit Gala from the south before closure. I haven't used the Borders bus once since. Who wants to suffer a bus journey of that length when the train is available. Now I visit my friend again in Galabank often since the railway reopened.
    Extending to Melrose and Hawick would be unbelievable. I hope it happens in my lifetime.
     
  14. Bald Rick

    Bald Rick Veteran Member

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    Clearly it isn’t. However spending a several hundred million pounds of public money up front, to then require the continued spend of (probably) a couple of million a year more public money in perpetuity, to benefit a fraction of the nation’s population, doesn’t feel like the best way to spend that public money to benefit Scotland overall.
     
  15. snookertam

    snookertam Member

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    Not sure every £1 spent by government has to be judged on whether it benefits the entire country. The Borders Railway is by its nature a regional project to benefit SE Scotland, but that doesn't devalue it in anyway just because someone in Glasgow doesn't get a direct benefit. And if the railway helps the economy of the Borders to grow, then that can help contribute to overall economic output too - the money spent here may well reap a net return.

    The Borders Railway has been a big success - actually a victim of its own success at times as passenger numbers have far exceeded expectations. It has also taken traffic off the A7 which was a big barrier to economic growth and connectivity in the Borders. And remember it isn't just the towns directly served by the railway that benefit - nearby Melrose and Newton St Boswells will also benefit through ppl choosing to drive to Tweedbank or get the bus to Galashiels to meet the train.
     
  16. Bald Rick

    Bald Rick Veteran Member

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    Sorry I may have misrepresented what I meant.

    I didn’t mean that the scheme has to benefit all of Scotland, far from it. Very few infrastructure projects, or works of public service for that matter, will benefit anything but a small proportion of the country.

    What I meant was that for the amount of money spent, both up front and on an ongoing basis, there would likely be more benefits, to more people, if it was spent elsewhere in Scotland on other projects, and therefore the other projects should be afforded priority.

    As an aside passenger numbers have not far exceeded expectations. They are just about on target. It is true that there are more coming from Tweedbank / Gala than expected, but this is offset by fewer coming from the Lothian stations.
     
  17. John Griffiths

    John Griffiths Member

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    Scotland is a large country with a relatively small population: the provision of rail services to reach out to large but thinly populated area is not just a political issue but a moral one - and morality is the forgotten issue in much of the UK these days.
     
  18. Hagbard Celine

    Hagbard Celine Member

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    If all public expenditure was allocated on that basis there would be no schools, hospitals, roads or anything else built outside the central belt.

    If the trains weren't full on arrival in Gorebridge more passengers from Midlothian would have used them.
     
  19. Journeyman

    Journeyman Established Member

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    If you were to reopen all the way to Carlisle, you need to consider why you'd do it, and who would use it. As others have said, the through journey time on offer would be in excess of two hours, far, far slower than the journey via the WCML, and as such it would have zero attraction for most Edinburgh - Carlisle passengers. This leaves...
    • use as a diversionary route - potentially useful, but it would need electrification throughout to be of much value, which is an expensive prospect for something that will probably only get used as such on a tiny handful of occasions
    • use for local journeys from Midlothian and the Borders to Carlisle - the key question here is whether there's enough regular demand - i.e. commuter traffic - to make this viable, and I suspect the answer to that is a resounding no.
    • use for local journeys from Melrose/Hawick and other towns south thereof to Edinburgh - again, very doubtful that there's enough justification there.
    • use to increase tourism in the area - this is one that often gets mentioned. The area served by the line is beautiful, and extending it does have some potential. Since the Borders Railway opened, I've discovered the delights of Stow, a lovely little village with some good walks nearby, and much of the area to the south of Tweedbank and Hawick is lovely too, but there's just so little in the way of population density to make the line justifiable. Tourism alone won't bring in enough.
    Also, if Scotland ends up becoming an independent nation, I think the nature of the economy either side of the border will potentially change a great deal. If Scotland is a single-market EU member, and England pursues a hard Brexit, there's a possibility of border formalities, and the SNP have started floating the idea of a Scottish pound. This, to me, makes the prospect of living on one side of the border and working on the other potentially a lot more complicated, and it might reduce the number of people doing so.
     
  20. A0wen

    A0wen Established Member

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    I concur - I don't think what has been built to date was a vanity project, it was absolutely about reconnecting an area to the national rail network which otherwise was reliant on a couple of A roads which are of variable quality.

    If you take Galashiels as the example - before the Borders railway the closest stations were, Edinburgh (circa 30 miles) Berwick (circa 40 miles) Hexham (circa 60 miles) or Carstairs (circa 40 miles) - that's far more remote than any of the other perennially suggested re-openings around here, most of which seem to be less than 10 miles from the nearest railhead. The current line has put Hawick within 20 miles of a railhead - more than halving its previous nearest link as well.

    The extension onto Carlisle is a vanity project - because Hawick apart - it doesn't serve anywhere of significance en route, there's no compelling evidence that there's pent up demand to travel south from either Tweedbank / Gala or Hawick to Carlisle. And the cost is likely to be significant to achieve this - its about 60 miles and with the cost of at least £ 10m / mile you're looking at a bill of £ 600m for this reinstatement.

    There is a legitimate argument that the line should never have closed in the first place - that may be true - but that doesn't equate to a justification to reopen it.
     
  21. Journeyman

    Journeyman Established Member

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    I don't think the case for keeping the line was particularly brilliant, given the nature of the area and traffic patterns at the time, but there was probably a good case for a singled line to Gala as a commuter route, which could have been operated quite cheaply by DMUs.

    But yes, you make a very good point there that a lot of people don't seem to grasp. It's all well and good railing against a decision made fifty years ago, but if it was a mistake, it's a very expensive one to correct, and I doubt it's worth it.
     
  22. tbtc

    tbtc Veteran Member

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    What would have been the benchmark though?

    It was built for political reasons rather than having a better business case than the alternative lines (say, Renfrew, Leven, Peterhead) - it was the price Labour paid for the LibDems going into coalition with them - so the passenger numbers weren't a prime concern - the expected passenger numbers weren't the reason for building the line - it wasn't like they'd done a long study into it - it was more a case of "we'll support you if you build a railway into an area with high LibDem votes so that we can represent our voters".

    And do the underwhelming passenger numbers at Midlothian stations matter, or just the Borders stations that have been better than expected?

    Do we consider the delays and the significantly increased budget (and the de-speccing) when assessing how big a success it was?

    The fact that it's taken some traffic off the parallel road should be the absolute bare-minimum for a new railway - and the "motorists from further afield can use Tweedbank as a railhead" argument would equally work if they'd just built the line as far as Gorebridge (which they could have done much sooner/ cheaper/ simpler, but the legislation meant that they were forbidden from a partial re-opening before the whole line was ready).

    I'm all for celebrating successes but we have to be honest about what they are, what the expectations were, what wouldn't be enough to qualify as a "success". For example, I could say that a line was a "success" if it was able to run without operational subsidy (i.e. forget about the construction costs, but let's at least make sure that the line is busy enough to run without future subsidy). Or maybe you have your own definition.
     
  23. railjock

    railjock Member

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    Given the over projection of Midlothian passenger numbers a railhead at Gorebridge may well have been a pretty bad decision. I think Midlothian passengers will significantly increase over the next decade as more housing, particularly Shawfair, is built and the roads in and around Edinburgh get even more congested.

    I can’t speak re Leven and Renfrew but I am very surprised that re-opening Peterhead had a better business case then Tweedbank.
     
  24. option

    option Member

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    So for a family of 4, you could probably build them a new house in Carlisle or Edinburgh, & not then have to subsidise the running costs forever more.
     
  25. option

    option Member

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    Would they like a direct service to London as well?
    or maybe Manchester Airport :lol:
     
  26. Alanko

    Alanko Member

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    Hawick seems to be a local place for local people. :lol: There is that lottery winning couple who live there. They could have moved to anywhere in the world...

    Saying that, a rail link might encourage developers to build more housing in and around Hawick, and open up it up as a commuter town. A rail link to Newtown St Boswells might work too. I know a couple of people who work, or worked, for Scottish Borders Council. They lived in outer Edinburgh and drove there every day, weather permitting.
     
  27. class26

    class26 Member

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    If they won the lottery they can pay for the rail link !
     
  28. Alanko

    Alanko Member

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    From memory they paid for some flood defenses and still pop into the same chippy every week.
     
  29. Hagbard Celine

    Hagbard Celine Member

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    Alex Hynes on a radio phone in https://twitter.com/i/status/1188471698636587009
    He says passenger numbers are growing faster than they can add more carriages. He is now promising six car 170s in the peak once HST roll out is complete.
    Six cars are the maximum that most of the stations can handle so if they prove inadequate some sort of infrastructure improvements will be necessary.
     
  30. Fisherman80

    Fisherman80 Member

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    I personally think the only rail project which may happen in the Borders region over the next few years would be a parkway station at Beattock.
     

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