CAMPAIGNERS pushing for the return of rail tracks from Edinburgh all the way to Carlisle were in celebratory mood this week.

Not only was the Campaign for Borders Rail marking its 20th anniversary, but guest speakers at the AGM confirmed that progress is being made towards extending the line.

Members of the lobbying group were told that completing the main line from Tweedbank to Carlisle, was ‘absolutely rock solid’.

The enthusiastic message came from MSP Christine Grahame, who has been an enthusiastic supporter of the Campaign throughout its 20-year existence.

The prospect of rebuilding the southern section of the line, joining up with the existing Borders Railway from Edinburgh, would make a through route in the Scottish Borders a reality for the first time in 50 years.

Simon Walton, who was re-elected as chair of the Campaign, said he shared that commitment, and urged Campaigners to ‘raise their game’ to ensure that a promise of £10m million for a feasibility study made jointly by Holyrood and Westminster governments in September delivers a positive recommendation.

He said: “I have always regarded the existing Borders Railway as phase one of our ambition for the Borders.

"Getting commitment to build the remainder has to be our next goal, and we’re moving closer to that every day.

"The political climate has moved significantly in favour of environmentally sustainable economic development.

"That means railway projects like the completion of the Borders Railway make even more sense as a means of rejuvenating communities at the same time as greening the environment.”

Author David Spaven, who wrote the definitive history of the closure and rebirth of the line, delivered a presentation during the AGM.

Mr Spaven praised the efforts of the Campaign, highlighting the successful case made for a station at Stow, and the concessions won to accommodate charter traffic.

He was, however, critical of the cuts made to bring the railway project in on budget, and highlighted what he called inappropriate gold-plating on aspects of the project, such as bridge structures designed for only one rail track, while also highlighting the additional costs of rectifying breaches to the line made in the intervening years.

Honoured guests at the meeting included Hawick campaigner Madge Elliot, who organised a petition to present to Prime Minister Harold Wilson at Downing Street in December 1968, and environmental campaigner Petra Biberbach, who was the first chair of the Campaign in 1999. Ms Biberbach and Mr Walton went on to cut a ceremonial birthday cake in commemoration of the Campaign’s anniversary.

Please find attached details of the Campaign’s AGM, where guest keynote speaker Christine Grahame MSP told the full-house that completion of the line was ’nailed on’, thereby fulfilling the CAmpaign’s ultimate aim of establishing a new cross-border rial link to facilitate economic regeneration, social inclusion and environmentally sustainable development.

The Campaign for Borders Rail

20th Anniversary Annual General Meeting

1100hrs, Tuesday 8th October 2019

Quaker Meeting House, 7 Victoria Terrace, Edinburgh EH1 2JL.