Letter: Opening already exists for rail link

THE article by Kristy Dorsey (Business, 24 July) on the High Speed Railway and especially HS2S, the link to Scotland, raises some interesting questions which have to be addressed.

Firstly, who is Richard Wellings the co-author of the IEA and what does he know about geography? His assertion, in extending the line into Scotland, that "the costs would be enormous, particularly if it takes the direct route through mountainous terrain" begs the question, "What mountains?"

I have lived in the Scottish Borders all of my life and cannot think of a single mountain in this part of the country. In fact, to build a brand new line through this area would be an expense that would be a cost too far.

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Remember the Waverley Line? That main line took express trains from Edinburgh through the Scottish Borders to Carlisle and then on to London. It was the only main line closed by Dr Beeching and Labour transport minister Richard Marsh in 1969 when we Borderers were promised "massive investment on the A7 trunk road," the principal strategic route through the area. In fact the local Liberal MP of the time, one David Steel, promised to resign if that didn't happen. He had earlier promised to resign if they closed the railway.

The A7 was subsequently de-trunked north of Galashiels by a Tory government under Thatcher and later by another Labour government under Blair, for the southern seven miles in England before it gets to Carlisle.

At a time when the English transport minister has done the same south of the Border with the A68 isn't it about time that the entire middle of the country had a "high-speed link to the south"?

Presently there are plans to re-open the top 40-odd miles of the old route as a "Borders railway" to Tweedbank but to have to travel nearly 50 miles north even to get on to this mythical "high-speed link" seems daft in the extreme.

Surely it would be better to run the proposed HS2S right up England to Carlisle then across the Scottish Border to Edinburgh using an existing route that will not interrupt traffic on the east or west cost during the building process. It may even show us Borderers that we haven't been forgotten after all... if we can jump on the train.

Kenneth Gunn, Selkirk