The Anonymous Widower

Where Does The Borders Railway Go Next?

My Borders correspondent, who lives near Selkirk, says that the Borders Railway has been generally well received. Certainly if you search Google News for Borders Railway, you don’t find many problems or complaints, except one about the singing of the National Anthem for the Queen.

A friend in Edinburgh has just told me, that the trains are too crowded at times. So what’s new? New railways are always crowded, especially if they fulfil a need.

The most common articles on the web, are ones like this one from the Border Telegraph, entitled Next Stop Hawick….

So what will effect this line in the next few years and what do I think will happen?

The Me Too Effect

Now that Galashiels has a reliable half-hourly service to Edinburgh, I suspect that the inhabitants South of Tweedbank, will say that if Galashiels and Tweedbank can have this, why can’t Melrose and Hawick?


Cross Border Co-operation

The Borders area of Scotland and the neighbouring area of England are very similar and probably have the same strengths, problems and needs.

In some ways they are very economically linked now.

  • Carlisle is economically tied to the Scottish Borders for shopping and transport links.
  • Newcastle is a major airport for the area.
  • There is even a rail service between Glasgow and Newcastle, that goes via Kilmarnock, Dumfries, Hexham and the Metro Centre.
  • Area rail tickets for North West England include Lockerbie.
  • Carlisle and Newcastle are the two major places to catch trains to the South, unless you go North to Edinburgh and Glasgow..

Surely this togetherness should be built on to develop the Borderlands, provided the politicians can be kept out of their way, in their offices in London and Edinburgh.

Increasing Railway Capacity Between England And Scotland

At present, the East Coast Main Line and the West Coast Main Line do not provide enough capacity between England and Scotland, for both passengers and freight.

Tourism And Other Economic Effects

I live in the Dalston area of Hackney, which is an area that has been uplifted by the creation of the London Overground from the rather decrepit railways that used to run through the area.

Unless you have lived through the process, most people will not understand how regular trains, running on a frequency of at least two an hour, can bring economic benefits to an area.

The Borderlands, probably have an economic profile not unlike the areas of East Anglia away from the large towns and cities that I know well.

  • Both areas are ringed by a series of large towns and cities
  • There is a lot of farming.
  • There are a lot of tourism-related businesses of all sizes.
  • In the summer, visitors take days out into the areas.
  • There is a certain amount of specialist manufacture.
  • Housing is being developed for those who have retired, who live and work locally and who commute to major towns and cities nearby.

All of these activities will increase the need for better transport links to the major cities that ring the areas.

The latest East Anglian Rail Franchise will mandate the franchisee to provide much better services all over the area and especially on the branch lines.

I can’t believe that the areas on both sides of the Border would not be worth developing in a similar way to that proposed for East Anglia.

Extending The Borders Railway To Melrose, Hawick And Carlisle

Scottish Borders politicians are all in favour of this extension, as are probably the good citizens of the area. My Borders correspondent and his family certainly appear to be.

Just as I have seen an economic uplift in Hackney because of the London Overground, I think it would be unlikely that the Borders Railway running through Melrose and Hawick, would not increase economic activity in the area.

This extension would certainly happen if Scotland stayed in the United Kingdom, as in some ways, this reopening, would help develop tourism in the wider area of the whole Borderlands, the Lake District and North Yorkshire.

Carlisle is probably the big winner in this activity and becomes a city with important or picturesque railway lines going everywhere.

The Borders Railway provides the missing link in the railways of the Borderlands.

So when the Scottish politicians discuss the project, they should take into account, the positive affects a complete line would have on England!

Should The Borders Railway Be Electrified?

This question could legitimately by asked about all the other lines meeting at Carlisle, that are not electrified.

But as Carlisle, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Newcastle , Preston and Skipton are all electrified, I suspect all of the Carlisle lines have enough electrification to be run by modern four-car Aventra IPEMU trains, charging their batteries where overhead power is available and running on batteries as needed.

Some of the lines, including possibly the Borders Railway, are probably ready for Aventra IPEMUs now, with a bit of modification to platforms, track and signalling! Some like probably the Cumbria Coast Line would need some electrification or other means to charge the batteries en route.

So the answer to the electrification question must be yes, if Aventra IPEMUs are used.

But it would create a local railway network, as good as any in Europe, in an environmentally-friendly but totally affordable way.

It would be a showpiece of British technology and an attraction to rail enthusiasts from all over the world.

The network also connects to four World Heritage Sites and the Lake District, Hadrian’s Wall and the major cities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Newcastle.

Would An Extended Borders Railway Provide Extra Capacity Between England And Scotland?

The Borders Railway has a limited number of paths for trains and when a steam special is run, one of the diesel multiple units has to give up its slot. Read various criticisms on Wikipedia.

My scheduling experience, does suggest to me, that if the line was run by the faster and better accelerating electric trains, including Aventra IPEMUs, that this might create some extra capacity on the line.

Unless the line was fully electrified, it wouldn’t be a route for using the electric trains that run up the East and West Coast Main Lines.

But it would be able to take services run by Aventra IPEMUs or any diesel-hauled passenger or freight trains.

These capacity arguments would also apply to the Glasgow and South Western Line, so with a bit of selective electrification and Aventra IPEMUs, some extra capacity might be squeezed in.

I certainly think that a railway time-tabling expert could certainly find some extra capacity.

But it might be overnight freight trains?

Are There Any Branches To The Borders Railway That Could Be Created?

The original Waverley route had several branches including to Peebles and Hexham.

Midlothian Council have also thought about a branch to Penicuik.

Extra branches are up to the economics and the politicians.


In my view, not to extend the Borders Railway to Carlisle by way of Melrose and Hawick, would be total stupidity.

The problem is that despite being totally in Scotland, extending the Borders Railway to Carlisle, has substantial benefits for England too!

What will Nicola think?







October 2, 2015 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Walk From Plumstead To Abbey Wood

I went to look at the Crossrail program at the short length of surface line, that connects London’s new railway to Abbey Wood.

I was able to cross the railway three times and it will soon be four, when the new footbridge close to the station is completed. This Google Map shows the are of the walk.

Plumstead Abbey Wood

Plumstead Abbey Wood

Plumstead station is to the left (West) and Abbey Wood is to the right (East)

October 2, 2015 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , | Leave a comment

The Canonbury Interchange In The Wet

Passengers going from Stratford to stations on the East London Line, often change at Canonbury, where it is a walk across from North London Line trains going West to East London Line trains going South, which are pften timed to be in the station together. I often do the change, as after one stop to Dalston Junction station, I can get any number of buses to just around the corner from where I live and can get home without crossing any roads.

A few days ago, I did the change in the wet.

The Canonbury Interchange In The Wet

The Canonbury Interchange In The Wet

Recently, Transport for London have placed a shelter in the middle of the platform, so it was a run from the Westbound train into the shelter and after a few minutes, another run straight from the shelter into the open door of the Southbound train, from where I took the picture, just as another Westbound train was arriving.

Canonbury station is an excellent example of how good design can improve the daily lives of everybody.

So often modern designs look good, but just annoy a lot of the population, who aren’t in the designer’s age, sexual and ethnic group.



October 2, 2015 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | Leave a comment

I’ve Just Heard The Most Crass Solution To Mass Shootings In The United States

After the shootings in Oregon yesterday, as reported on the BBC, the BBC has just had a pastor from the area on the phone.

You’d think as a religious leader, he would have advocated something fairly sane, but he said that the answer to these school shootings, is to allow the other students to carry guns, so they could shoot an attacker.

With people like that in the States, I doubt they’ll ever solve their problem of mass shootings, until everybody has been shot dead.

October 2, 2015 Posted by | World | , | 1 Comment

Crossrail Are Uphill Excavating Again

In Coal Mining In Whitechapel, I described how the Crossrail contractors were using a technique called uphill excavation to connect the Crossrail tunnels to the existing Whitechapel station above.

In this document on the Crossrail web site, the company describes how the technique is being used again to connect the running tunnels to the Broadgate ticket hall above. This is said about the methods used.

This excavation will be carried out using an innovative method of uphill excavation. Traditional uphill excavation is considered unsafe due to the risk of excavated material falling onto the excavator and operatives, however the BBMV team realised that the ability to excavate upwards from existing tunnels at the base of the escalator shaft would generate significant time and cost savings. In response BBMV introduced a bespoke uphill excavator that is suspended from the ceiling of the construction tunnel and advances in line with the tunnel progression. A walkway along the side of the excavator provides the engineer with a safe working area and emergency egress for the operator. Once this excavation of this escalator shaft is complete we will begin to construct an access passage that will lead passengers from the Ticket Hall into the station tunnels, in early 2016.

There is also the first published picture I’ve found of an uphill excavator.

BBMV's Uphill Excavator

BBMV’s Uphill Excavator

I think we’ll find in the coming years that uphill excavation will be increasingly used in the construction of railways and other tunnels underneath towns and cities.

I’m sure, Crossrail 2 will use the technique to create stations at Angel, Chelsea and Tottenham Court Road. The biggest advantage is that it will silence the Militant Wing of the heritage lobby and all the luvvies, who are against London getting a better public transport system.

I also think, that we could build underground stations for HS2 at Euston, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds, and use the technique to provide link tunnels to the existing stations above.

October 2, 2015 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

TPOD or Blockade?

This article on the Rail Engineer web site is entitled Preparing The Way For Bath Electrification.

It is a good read and it brings a new acronym into the English language – TPOD. This is said about the change of wording.

Normally, closing a 20 mile stretch of the main line, from Thingley Junction to Bath Station, for six weeks would be referred to as a ‘blockade’ but, during the consultation process, the word blockade became a very sensitive issue. It implied that Bath was closed for business, which wasn’t the case. Therefore, to ensure that tourists were not put off travelling to the city, it was suggested that Network Rail should use a different description for the closure. As a result the acronym TPOD was created – Temporary Period of Disruption! So the work was carried out during a six week TPOD. You’ll get used to it.

Only time will tell, if this friendlier word TPOD becomes accepted. Or will it have the same connotations as Rail Replacement Bus?

But words are important!

As an example, I object to messages on trains and buses using the word terminate at the end of a journey.

It sounds so final!

At least, it seems to be becoming more common for a message like.

This train finishes its journey here.

To be used. Especially, where train staff are giving an announcement.

October 2, 2015 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment