Rail campaigners pledge to continue fight to extend line

The Campaign for Borders Rail hit the green signals at its annual meeting last week in Stow – less than two months after the re-opening of the former Waverley line, closed in 1969.
Picture: Phil WilkinsonPicture: Phil Wilkinson
Picture: Phil Wilkinson

CBR has pledged to continue the next stage of the fight to extend the line to Hawick and then Carlisle.

Allan McLean, who has taken over as chairman after Simon Walton stood down as he has moved to a new job in Salford, is the driving force of the group, which itself was instrumental in bringing the railway back to the Borders.

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With experience as a former Virgin Trains employee, Mr McLean has been joined by Robert Drysdale as his vice-chairman.

“We all want the railway to move ahead and plan to continue our good work,” he said.

The Borders Community Rail Partnership, which will be officially launched this month (November), is the bridge to link the railway with local communities.

A ‘paper’ by Michael Spencer entitled ‘Onwards to Hawick’ is seen as the catalyst for the line extension with plans for leaflets to be ‘dropped’ into every house in Hawick and Newcastleton.

“We aim to encourage the benefits of the railway to other place, taking in not only Hawick,” Mr McLean said, with Kim Elliot and Alastair Redpath acting as Hawick representatives.

Mr Walton, in his final address, said: “I believe that the reinstatement off the line to Carlisle is now on the horizon, but there is a long and difficult way ahead.”

For the first time, members were able to travel to the meeting by train, and the speakers were MP Callum Kerr; Hugh Wark, ‘retired’ Project Manager (Network Rail) of the Borders Railway; and Lisa Beattie, Midlothian councillor.

And despite early gremlins on the line with cancelled trains, over-crowded carriages and failed ticket machines, the restoration of the line was seen as a major coup for the Borders.

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This story was taken from our sister publication The Southern Reporter.