False economy

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The Borders Railway faces an even more pressing concern than planning for future growth (your report, 6 November). Transport Scotland’s decision to cut back the length of double track on the line from 15.5 miles to 9.5 miles means that the buffer for late-running trains will be just two minutes before one train starts impacting on others, and by ­extension on the whole ­timetable.

Experience on the Edinburgh-Bathgate line before it was upgraded to double-track throughout was that the single-track section from Livingston North to Bathgate played havoc with rail reliability, resulting in many trains being turned back at Livingston North rather than going through to Bathgate.

The reliability of the Borders Railway train service is therefore a serious concern – and to compound the problem, Transport Scotland has short-sightedly ­specified that the new road bridges to be built over the single-track sections of the railway will only have space for single-track, with no “future proofing” for eventual doubling.

Ironically, the new roads over the railway are being built to the highest standards, while the railway – which is paying for the roads – is being skimped.

If the Borders Railway train service fails to provide an acceptable level of reliability in 2015, there will now be no easy or cost-effective way of extending double track over a sufficient length to give the railway the operational resilience it needs.

The Scottish Government will rue this crass “penny-wise, pound-foolish” approach to a key section of strategic rail infrastructure.

David Spaven

Edinburgh