Thursday, 3 January 2013

NORTH OF THE BORDER...

Signs of progress
North of the border there are signs of real progress as work on rebuilding the Borders Railway (at a cost of £294 million (in 2012 prices) is set to start in the New Year. The successful conclusion of this project will re-establish passenger railway services for the first time since 1969 from Edinburgh through Midlothian to Tweedbank in the Scottish Borders. In 1969, the historic Waverley line which connected the Scottish Borders to the national rail network was closed as part of a wider series of savage cuts to British Railways.

The closure led to a persistent campaign for a return of rail to the region that never failed or diminished in its intensity. The construction of the 30 mile railway, complete with seven new stations will deliver major economic and social development opportunities and offer a fast and efficient railway service. Trains will run every half hour at peak times and journey times between Tweedbank and Edinburgh will take less than one hour.

Driver training on the Gaer spur (Ian Brewer)
The reopening of the long closed Waverley line in Scotland is a real achievement and shows what’s possible when there is a will. Where is the Welsh commitment to projects to develop and reopen our railways. Locally the Labour in Wales government cannot even commit to the long promised completion of the Ebbw Vale to Newport railway  line, where the track remains in place less improvements to signaling.

The completed rail project should bring inward investment for local communities plus approximately £33 million pounds worth of benefits for the wider Scottish economy. Some 400 jobs will be created and supported through the construction phase and the new rail link should act as a catalyst for increased business development and housing opportunities within easy commuting distance of Edinburgh, as well as providing access to jobs in Edinburgh for local people.  Well done Scotland!

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