The Anonymous Widower

The Scottish Borders Have Caught London Overground Syndrome

The Scottish Borders would appear to be suffering from that new benign disease;London Overground Syndrome!

This disease, which is probably a modern version of the Victorian railway mania, was first identified in East London in 2011, when it was found that the newly-refurbished East London Line and North London Line were inadequate due to high passenger satisfaction and much increased usage. It has now spread across other parts of the capital, despite various eradication programs.

The latest pressure would seem to be to take over more of London’s suburban routes.

Londoners can’t seem to get enough of the life-improving orange.

Rail Plans For The Scottish Borders

This article on the BBC is entitled Borders Railway: Future Goals For New Routes Drawn Up.

Reading the article, it would appear that the following are proposed or are possibilities for the Borders Railway to mitigate the effect of London Overground syndrome.

  • Building on the current success.
  • Extending the railway to Hawick.
  • Add some dynamic passing loops to increase service resilience.
  • Add some more parking.
  • Improve the wi-fi.
  • More capacity and especially for tourism-related reasons.
  • More steam trains.
  • A possible branch to Peebles.

It would appear to be all well-thought out ideas, some of which will happen.

  • More car parking at Tweedbank and Stow
  • Longer trains with space for bicycles.
  • Perhaps a longer passing loop. to enable increased and faster services.
  • A turnback facility at Tweedbank to aid the running of stem trains.
  • Better wi-fi.

But most of these projects are easily costed and the benefits can be calculated. So they are ones that accountants like and can fund or turn down.

Onward To Hawick

The Wikipedia entry for the Borders Railway, says this about a proposed extension to Hawick and Carlisle.

The Campaign for Borders Rail has called for the continuation of the line to Melrose and Hawick, and eventually to Carlisle. According to the group, Hawick suffered more than any other town in the Borders from the closure of the Waverley Route, and only the return of the railway could halt the area’s economic decline. At the time of the closure of the Waverley Route, Hawick was a 70-minute journey from Edinburgh. At Melrose, the southbound station platform and building exist alongside the Melrose Bypass. Network Rail has confirmed that there is nothing to prevent the extension of the line beyond Tweedbank, although commentators have remarked that the Bypass could pose problems. A major realignment of the road would be required, as well as the reinstatement of embankments and bridges.

I have traced the route of the Waverley Route beyond Tweedbank station on Google Maps and you can see a lot of the original route to Hawick, which only seems to have one viaduct at Ale Water.

Note that there appear to be a succession of viaducts to the South of Hawick, so perhaps Hawick would be a town to take a breather. I’ve also traced this section on Google Maps and if it was ever rebuilt, it would certainly be some railway.

I think that they could spend a lot of money going all the way to Carlisle, but an affordable extension to Hawick via the Borders Hospital and Melrose might be so successful as to get the politicians to allow the engineers to go all the way to Carlisle station, which as I reported in If Manchester Victoria and Birmingham New Street Were The First Two Courses, Is Carlisle The Third?, is being rebuilt to give all friendly visitors a warm welcome.

Power To The Peebles?

I’ve borrowed the corny sub-heading from a section in the BBC report, that prompted me to write this post.

The report says this.

It also recognises the success of the Borders Railway as encouraging hopes of reopening other lines.

It said some might not be suitable for redevelopment but cited the former route between Edinburgh and Peebles as one worth considering.

I think the route to Peebles is the Peebles Railway, which leaves the Borders Railway, just South of Eskbank station, goes South Westerly to Peebles and then Easterly to rejoin the Border Railway North of Galashiels station.

This sudden appearance of a plan for a Peebles Branch of the Border Railway has got my suspicions that a group of engineers have resorted to the methods of Brunel and Stephenson to solve the problem of increasing the double track  on the Borders Railway.

I suspect the engineering fag packets and used envelops were produced together with a bottle of Scotland’s finest malt whisky and everybody went to the garden of a suitable hostelry, that overlooked the line and got thinking.

They looked at some of the single track sections like Newbattle Viaduct and thought that rebuilding railways in Syria might be easier.

Then they looked at the route of the Peebles Railway and felt if it was rebuilt, it would kill three birds with one stone.

  • Peebles and a few other places would be connected to the rail network.
  • The Borders Railway would get a much needed passing loop.
  • Various tunnels and viaducts on the Borders Railway would not need to be double-tracked.

The Peebles Branch could be single or double-tracked according to the terrain and the costs.

A Second Borders Railway

It would also appear that because of the success of the Borders Railway, that there are suggestions to add new stations on the East Coast Main Line at Reston and East Linton. This is said under Future in the Wikipedia entry for East Linton station.

Proposals to reopen the station, along with the former station at Reston, have received the backing of John Lamont MSP, who has taken the case to the Scottish Parliament. A study published in 2013 proposed that East Linton and Reston stations be reopened. Since Abellio ScotRail took over the franchise in April 2015, they have now committed to reopening East Linton and Reston Stations as part of the local Berwick service by December 2016 but due to the shortage of rolling stock this will now commence in December 2018.

So it would appear there is a high chance it will happen.

This Google Map shows the location of East Linton between Dunbar and Edinburgh.

East Linton and Dunbar

East Linton and Dunbar

East Linton is indicated by the red arrow and Dunbar is on the coast to the East.

Dunbar station is on the East Coast Main Line, with services to Edinburgh and Berwick-on-Tweed.

This Google Map shows the proposed location of Reston station, which is between Dunbar and Berwick-on-Tweed.

Reston And Berwick-on-Tweed

Reston And Berwick-on-Tweed

Reston is indicated by the red arrow. The river at the bottom is the Tweed, with Berwick on the coast and the border.

This scheme looks to be a very sensible use of an existing main line. It also follows a pattern of adding Parkway stations to main lines and the recent opening of the new Cranbrook station on the West of England Main Line.

There would appear to be a few other closed stations on the line.

As they are not mentioned with respect to East Linton and Reston stations, I would assume that there is not a great deal of pressure for reopening.

If we look at the possible opening of services to East Linton and Reston stations in 2018, when Abellio Scotrail have trains available, this will only be a year before First TransPennine extend their Newcastle services to Edinburgh.

So could this hourly service stop at other places between Newcastle and Edinburgh, other than the proposed Morpeth?

The Berwickshire Railway

When I was looking at the Wikipedia entry for Reston station, I noticed that the Berwickshire Railway linked the station to St. Boswell’s station on the Waverley Route, which could be part of the extension of the Borders Railway to Hawick.

I suspect someone has looked at this line to create a  route to Galashiels from the South East via Reston, St. Boswell’s, Melrose and Tweedbank.

But this report of the Storm of 1948 probably told them to forget the idea.


March 19, 2016 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , ,


  1. […] the increase in service frequency, London Overground Syndrome means that the passengers using the service will […]

    Pingback by A South London Metro « The Anonymous Widower | September 18, 2017 | Reply

  2. […] own version of London Overground Syndrome, with passenger numbers much higher than predicted. In The Scottish Borders Have Caught London Overground Syndrome, I talked about an outbreak in the Scottish Borders and said […]

    Pingback by Financial Trouble At TfL: Can It Stay Afloat? « The Anonymous Widower | May 15, 2018 | Reply

  3. […] The Scottish Borders Have Caught London Overground Syndrome, I said […]

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