The Anonymous Widower

Borders Railway: More Than 4 Million Journeys In 3 Years

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in Global Rail News.

The Borders Railway may only be a thirty mile route with a frequency of two trains per hour, but I believe it shows the economic and lifestyle benefits that new rail routes can bring.

And all at a cost of around £200million.

We should be looking to build other lines like this in the UK.

And all over the World!

September 10, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

Borderlands Deal Bid Gathers Pace

The title of this post is the same as this article on the BBC.

I feel it would be a good idea for the England-Scotland border to get a growth deal, as every time I go there, it seems to me that the Borderlands are economically interdependent.

This is a paragraph.

Among the schemes potentially involved is a study looking at extending the Borders Railway to Carlisle.

This railway would surely be very beneficial in industries like tourism and forestry.

August 26, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

The Stone Arch Railway Bridges Of Scotland

There are a lot of stone arch railway bridges in the UK, but they do seem to more numerous in Scotland, than in England.

These pictures show a selection of bridges on the Borders Railway.

I counted to about fifteen between Edinburgh Waverley and Galashiels stations.

There were probably about an equal number of bridges where a stone arch bridge had been replaced by a modern concrete structure, like this one.

They’ll probably last a thousand years, but they lack the charm of the stone arch bridges.

These pictures show a selection of bridges on the Busby Railway between Glasgow Central and East Kilbride stations.

These pictures show a selection of the many bridges between Aberdeen and Montrose stations on the Edinburgh – Aberdeen Line.

I took pictures of at least twenty.

Freight Trains

Freight trains, especially those with the larger containers need a loading gauge, that is big enough to accept them.

The loading gauge in the UK, is summed up by these two sentences from Wikipedia.

Great Britain has (in general) the most restrictive loading gauge (relative to track gauge) in the world. This is a legacy of the British railway network being the world’s oldest, and having been built by a plethora of different private companies, each with different standards for the width and height of trains.

These are the commonest gauges.

  • W6a: Available over the majority of the British rail network.
    W8: Allows standard 2.6 m (8 ft 6 in) high shipping containers to be carried on standard wagons.
    W10: Allows 2.9 m (9 ft 6 in) high Hi-Cube shipping containers to be carried on standard wagons and also allows 2.5 m (8 ft 2 in) wide Euro shipping containers.
    W12: Slightly wider than W10 at 2.6 m (8 ft 6 in) to accommodate refrigerated containers.

W12 is recommended clearance for new structures, such as bridges and tunnels

The Borders Railway appears to have been built to at least W8, so it could handle standard freight containers.

But the line doesn’t carry freight!

On the other hand, I suspect the following were considered, when designing the Borders Railway.

  • Network Rail and rail maintenance companies, may need to bring some large rail-mounted equipment along the line for regular or emergency maintenance.
  • If the line is extended to Carlisle, the route could be used as a diversion for freight trains, if the West Coast Main Line is closed, due to weather or engineering works.
  • There may be a need to use the Borders Railway to extract timber from the forests of the Borders.

The need for freight on the Borders Railway, explains why there are so many new overbridges.


Electrification with overhead wires needs extra clearance.

It looks to me, that the Borders Railway has been given enough clearance for future electrification.

Problems With EGIP

Electrification under the Edinburgh to Glasgow Improvement Program (EGIP), proved to be difficult.

It wasn’t helped by the standards changing half-way through the project and the numerous bridges and tunnels that had to be rebuilt.

An important route like Edinburgh to Glasgow probably needs to be fully-electrified, but the difficulties encountered and those in Lancashire have encouraged Network Rail and the engineering consultants to look at other methods of electrifying lines in the UK.

Electrification Between Edinburgh And Aberdeen

I doubt this will ever happen in a conventional manner.

  • Would electrification of the Forth Bridge and Tay Rail Bridge be allowed?
  • The disruption of rebuilding the stone bridges would be enormous.
  • The line only has a maximum speed of 100 mph.

Diesel and alternative power sources like hydrogen will be able to maintain the fastest speeds, that are possible on the line.

Money would probably give better value, if it were to be used to increase line speed.

Opposition To Rebuilding Bridges

This article on Rail Technology Magazine is entitled Network Rail Electrification Plans Stalled After Council Rejects Bridge Removal Bid.

This is first paragraph.

Campaigners are celebrating after plans from Network Rail to demolish a bridge as part of its electrification scheme were rejected by a local council.

The bridge in question is a Grade II listed overbridge at Steventon in Oxfordshire.

It is not unlike those in Scotland, that are shown in my pictures.

In the 1960s, British Rail would have just blown it up and replaced it with a concrete monstrosity.

I am not advocating a return to this policy, but Network Rail has a problem at Steventon, that they need to fully electrify the line, if electric trains are to use the route on electric power, rather than using environmentally-unfriendly diesel power.

Since the new Class 800 trains for the route were designed and ordered, the technology has moved on.

In South Wales, discontinuous electrification and trains with a battery capability will be used.


Scotland and other parts of the UK, like the Pennines and in the valleys of South Wales, have a serious problem with the way the Victorians built our railways.

\development of the UK rail network with electrification and an enhanced freight capability needs to be thought out carefully and with great ingenuity.





August 12, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Financial Trouble At TfL: Can It Stay Afloat?

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Railway Technology.

This is the first paragraph.

London’s public transport provider, TfL, is under increasing pressure. Not only has its government operating grant been slashed but a funding freeze is also expected to cost £640m across the course of the current mayoralty. Can TfL create the commercial income needed to keep it afloat or are there serious causes for concern?

The government is cutting subsidy to TfL, but Sadiq Khan knew that when he stood for Mayor.

So what did he do? He offered a fare freeze until 2020.

It looks like more fantasy Socialist accounting to me, to ensure victory in an election.

The article also says this about the future.

Nevertheless, TfL’s hopes for the future are pinned on the completion of its upcoming Elizabeth Line project, scheduled for the end of the year. The £14.8bn project, which will create a brand new line running underground across London, is expected to be a big revenue raiser. TfL predicts that ridership will increase from the current 46 million passengers on TfL Rail, to nearly 270 million by 2022-2023.

If these predictions are wrong, TfL will be in trouble.

For myself, I suspect that Crossrail will suffer with its 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, after the opening of the Borders Railway, and said this.

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.

But for the Mayor to rely on that, is clutching at straws.

May 15, 2018 Posted by | Finance, Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

MP Calling For Borders Link To High-Speed Rail Network

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article in the Southern Reporter.

My feeling is that I don’t think the MP should worry about this one.


  • When High Speed 2 opens to Crewe in 2027, London to Glasgow trains will take under four hours.
  • The West Coast Main Line will be improved between Carlisle and Glasgow.
  • Freight traffic between England and Scotland is increasing.
  • A large freight interchange could be built at Longtown.
  • Increased services between Liverpool/Manchester and Edinburgh/Glasgow are starting.
  • Carlisle station is being refurbished.

All this will lead to more through traffic at Carlisle.

I would think it would be extremely likely, that the West Coast Main Line between Carlisle and Longtown will be improved substantially.

If this happens, then any extension of the Borders Railway will have a fast link to HS2 at Carlisle, from where it will probably join the West Coast Main Line in the Longtown area.

It should also be noted, that High Speed 2 is being designed to give benefits to as many places as possible.

A Borders Railway connected to Carlisle fits this strategy.

January 5, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Are The Geordies Backing The Extended Borders Railway?

This article in the Morpeth Herald is entitled The Positive Impact Of Dr Beeching.

The author reviews what Doctor Beeching did and gives him credit for the good to go with the bad.

This is a paragraph.

It is often thought that Dr Beeching was negative, closing lines and stations, but his positive suggestions resulted in InterCity express trains and high density ‘commuter’ services, while his most dramatic change was to create bulk-load freight services, Freightliners, using containers. These have been really successful.

The author then goes on to give reasons, why the Borders Railway should be extended South, including using the line to bring timber from the maturing Kielder Forest to where it is needed.

He also suggests that the route from St. Boswells to Tweedmouth be reinstated to create an inland diversion route for the East Coast Main Line, which runs close to the sea.

The article makes some very valid points and it all builds a strong case for improved railways in the Borderlands between Edinburgh, Carlisle and Newcastle.


November 6, 2017 Posted by | Transport | | Leave a comment

Campaign For New Cross-Border Rail Link Gathers Pace

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in the Carlisle News And Star.

The interesting thing about the article is that it shows the growing co-operation between Councils and organisations on both sides of the border.

That co-operation and the need to increase capacity on the West Coast Main Line through Carlisle will eventually get a reinstated railway between Edinburgh and Carlisle via Galashield, Melrose and Hawick.

East-West and North-South Railways

When politicians talk about East-West links in the UK, they tend to be very parochial. Some are getting improved and some are not!

These can be considered major East-West links in the UK.

  • Inverness to Aberdeen – Being upgraded.
  • Glasgow to Edinburgh – Undergoing a major upgrade and electrification.
  • Carlisle to Edinburgh via Hawick – Still a study
  • Carlisle to Newcastle- Could be improved.
  • Carlisle to Leeds – Recently upgraded and safeguarded.
  • Preston to Leeds – Needs upgrading.
  • Manchester to Leeds – Desperately needs upgrading.
  • Manchester to Sheffield- Desperately needs upgrading.
  • Holyhead to Manchester – Needs some improvement.
  • Nuneaton to Felixstowe – Needs upgrading and electrification.
  • Oxford to Cambridge – Being rebuilt slowly.
  • Cardiff to London – Being upgraded and electrified slowly.
  • Exeter to Ashford via Southampton and Brighton – Needs upgrading.

East-West links are not in the same state as the major North-South routes.

  • West Coast Main Line
  • Midland Main Line
  • East Coast Main Line
  • Brighton Main Line
  • West Anglia Main Line
  • Great Eastern Main Line

It could be argued that the last three are in need of some improvements, but the first three will be augmented by HS2.

Look at the quality of trains on East-West routes compared to those on North-South routes.

HS2’s Needs

It could also be argued that all East-West routes should be substantially improved to compliment the building of HS2.

Carlisle, Crewe, Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham, Preston and Sheffield will probably have excellent single-station interchange between HS2 and classic routes and good East-West connections will benefit a lot of passengers.

However, as things stand at present,Birmingham is getting rather a dog’s breakfast with passengers having to transfer between Curzon Street and New Street stations for onward travel.

Birmingham deserves better!



October 25, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Carlisle Joins The Fight For The Extended Borders Railway

This article in the Southern Reporter is entitled Carlisle the ‘logical step forward’.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Carlisle City Council has joined the army of organisations fighting for the Borders Railway to be extended south.

The council’s leader, Cllr Colin Glover, has held joint talks with the Campaign for Borders Rail, agreeing to stimulate economic growth through reinstatement of the railway between Carlisle, Longtown, and the Central Borders.

The article has a lot of comments about why the extended Borders Railway would be good for both Carlisle and the Scottish Borders.

This is a comment from the leader of Carlisle Council.

There are clear benefits for Carlisle, Building a new line supports plans for growth all over the city and region.

Ever since, the Borders Railway opened to Tweedbank station, it has been my view that Carlisle is key to completion of the reinstated route between Edinburgh and the North West of England.


  • Carlisle is a city of just over 100,000 people.
  • The whole of the Scottish Borders only has a population of 114,000.
  • Carlisle is a major railway junction with services to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Newcastle and the South of England.
  • Some of the most scenic rail routes in the UK, link Carlisle with Glasgow and South West Scotland, the Lake District, Leeds and Newcastle.
  • The important scenic route to Edinburgh through the Borders is missing.
  • The West Coast Main Line (WCML) needs to increase capacity through Carlisle.
  • HS2 services will be arriving at Carlisle, via Crewe and the WCML, around 2033.

The Borders Railway to Carlisle is undoubtedly an Anglo-Scottish project.


I suspect that when the definitive report on the extension of the Borders Railway to Carlisle is published, Carlisle will be one of the biggest beneficiaries.



September 2, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

A Branch To Penicuik From The Borders Railway

I started this post as part of Extending The Borders Railway To Carlisle, but as I research it more and talk to my correspondent in the Borders, I feel it needs to be a separate post.

There is an article in the Scotsman from 2013, which is entitled Borders rail link: £150m plan for Penicuik spur. This is the first paragraph.

A vital £150 million rail line connecting Penicuik to central Edinburgh could be reopened for the first time in half a century.

The article then gives a lot of favourable comments about the possibility of the link. My correspondent, grew up in the town and feels that a rail link is needed, especially, as when he was a boy, the town had three rail lines.

In the Wikipedia entry for the Borders Railway, this is a paragraph about a future branch to Penicuik.

In May 2013, it was reported that Heriot-Watt University had been asked by Midlothian Council to carry out a feasibility study on a 10-mile (16 km) rail link connecting Penicuik with the Borders Railway. At least 6 miles (9.7 km) of the new line would follow the Edinburgh, Loanhead and Roslin Railway, the alignment of which is generally intact between Millerhill and Straiton.

This proposal is not mentioned in the recent CBR report, which is entitled A Summary Case For A New Cross-Border Rail Link, that can be downloaded in PDF form from this location.

Newcraighall Station And Park-And-Ride

Newcraighall station will be North of where the proposed branch to Penicuik joins the Borders Railway.

This Google Map shows the station and the surrounding area.

Note the A1 and the convenient Park-and-Ride.

Wikipedia says this about Services from Newcraighall station.

Monday to Saturday daytimes there is a half-hourly service to Edinburgh and to Tweedbank, and an hourly evening and Sunday service. Four weekday morning peak services run beyond Edinburgh to Glenrothes with Thornton via Kirkcaldy and a similar number run in the opposite direction in the evening. When the station was a terminus, many services ran through to/from the Fife Circle Line but this practice ended prior to the reopening of the full route to Tweedbank.

I believe that a Park-and-Ride of this size, location and probable importance needs at least four trains per hour (tph) all day.

Currently, two tph between Edinburgh and Tweedbank call at Newcraighall. As it takes two hours for a train to do the round trip, this means that four trains are needed to provide a two tph service.

Four tph all the way to Tweedbank would need eight trains, but due to limitations in the design of the Borders Railway would probably be very difficult to operate.

Terminating them at Newcraighall and perhaps running beyond Edinburgh to Fife is obviously a possibility, but Newcraighall station only has one bi-directional platform.

Two Trains Per Hour To Penicuik

Opening a branch to Penicuik and running two tph would give Newcraighall station and the Park-and-Ride the four tph train service it needs, when combined with the two tph along the Borders Railway.

The Edinburgh, Loanhead and Roslin Railway

Wikipedia says the route would probably follow the route of the Edinburgh, Loanhead and Roslin Railway.

  • Much of the route is visible on Google Maps.
  • The original line closed in the 1960s.
  • There were stations at Gilmerton, Loanhead, Roslin and Glencourse.
  • The major engineering feature of the line was a visduct over Bilston Glen.

Penicuik was served by a freight-only line.

Shawfair Station

It would appear that the Northbound and Southbound trains on the Borders Railway seem to call at Shawfair station around the same time.

This must make operation of the line much simpler and it probably meant that Newcraighall station only needed one platform.

This Google Map shows the Borders Railway passing through Shawfair station.

Note the disused track of the Edinburgh, Loanhead and Roslin Railway crossing the Borders Railway at right-angles and then curving Northwards to the freight yard at Millerhill.

Trains could go via Millerhill, to join the Borders Railway South of Newcraighall station, but surely, it would be better if the branch to Penicuik, joined  the Borders Railway South of Shawfair station.

This would allow trains to and from Penicuik to pass at Shawfair station.

As trains to and from Tweedbank station seem to call between

  • XX:08 to XX:10
  • and XX 38 to XX:40

So  Penicuik trains could use times of perhaps .

  • XX:23 to XX:25
  • and XX 53 to XX:55

Which would mean a train would have thirty minutes to go from Shawfair to and from Penicuik.

The way Shawfair station is used also means the following for the Borders Railway.

  • A convenient spacing is imposed for trains to call at the single platform at Newcraighall station, as that is just four minutes towards Edinburgh.
  • Effectively, the Borders Railway to Tweedbank station runs a two tph service with two widely-seperated trains South of Shawfair station at any one time.
  • Two widely-separated  trains, South of Shawfair station enables the use of single-platform stations at all stations except Stow and Tweedbank.
  • Shawfair station is the only station with an expensive footbridge.

I also suspect that four tph is possible, with trains passing at Shawfair and Stow stations, perhaps with faster trains and improvements to the signalling.

By clever design and selective use of two-platform stations and double-track, it would appear that the engineers have designed an efficient affordable railway, that is mainly single track and has only one footbridge.

The Junction Of The Borders Railway And The Penicuik Branch

This Google Map shows where the track-bed of the Edinburgh, Loanhead and Roslin Railway passes under the Borders Railway to the South of Shawfair station.

Note the old track-bed of the Edinburgh, Loanhead and Roslin Railway running East-West across the bottom of the map.

The roads in the area don’t appear to have been built with a suitable space for a chord to connect.

But even so, I suspect it would be a practical proposition for a single-track chord to be built between the Borders Railway and the Edinburgh, Loanhead and Roslin Railway.

The only difficult construction would be crossing the A6106 road to the South-East of the roundabout.

A cross-over would be needed South of Shawfair station to allow Southbound trains to access the branch to Penicuik. But as there would only be no more than four tph South of Shawfair station, this wouldn’t be a large operational problem.

Single-Track To Penicuik

Wikipedia says that the proposed Penicuik branch is ten miles in length.

Surely, if it were a single-track branch, trains could go from Shawfair to Penicuik station and return within thirty minutes.


  • It would take five minutes for the driver to change ends at Penicuik
  • Two stops each way with a modern train could take a total of just five minutes.
  • The train would be the only one on the branch.
  • A well-designed line could have an operating speed of at least 75 mph and possibly 90 mph.

All this would mean that there would be ten minutes for each leg of the journey between Shawfair and Penicuik.

Should A Future Penicuik Branch Be Electrified?

Electrification of a future Penicuik Branch would not be difficult.

  • Electrification would need to be extended from Newcraighall station.
  • Electrification would be easier, if the branch were single-track with single-platform stations.
  • Electrification of a new railway must be easier than electrifying an existing line.

Electrifying between Newcraighall and Penicuik may give advantages.

  • There will be a fairly plentiful supply of cascaded electric trains, that could be suitable for the route.
  • Electrifying may allow electric trains to access the Millerhill TMD.
  • Electrifying would help in running bi-mode trains on the Borders Railway, if that were thought necessary.
  • Electrifying may save a few minutes between Shawfair and Penicuik.

Obviously, electrification would allow politicians to boast about their green credentials.

The only disadvantage of electrification is that some bridges may need to be raised.

Surely, if the ten-mile branch was well-designed as mostly single-track, perhaps with electrification, and run by modern trains, two tph would be possible, even with one or more intermediate stops.

Could A Future Penicuik Branch Be Worked By Bi-Mode Trains?

A bi-mode train like a Class 319 Flex train could certainly work the route and as they have lots of power, they could probably achieve the Shawfair to Penicuik and return time of thirty minutes.

Could A Future Penicuik Branch Be Worked By Battery Trains?

As it is only ten miles between Shawfair and Penicuik, I suspect that in the future,, trains with onboard energy storage will be able to work the branch.

Single-Platform Stations

If the future Penicuik Branch could be a single-track railway, where only  one train was on the branch at any one time, all stations could be built with a single-platform and no expensive footbridge, as most stations were built on the existing Borders Railway.

As five-cars seems to be becoming the new standard train length, I would build all platforms to accept five-car trains.,

A North-South Service Across Edinbugh

Peak Hour services link Tweedbank and Newcraighall  beyond Edinburgh to Glenrothes with Thornton via Kirkcaldy.

There is obviously a need for a service in the Peak, but if there was a second Southern terminus at Penicuik would it be sensible that if a total of four tph were running from Newcraighall to Edinburgh, that a proportion cross the Forth.

Note that Cross-Forth services.

There are certainly lots of possibilities.

Could A Future Penicuik Branch Be Worked By Tram-Trains?

The Germans would probably use tram-trains in a city the size of Edinburgh.

Compared to the tram networks in Nottingham and Birmingham, Edinburgh trams always strike me that it was a network designed without ambition and that doesn’t provide the maximum benefit to the largest number of residents and visitors.

If you look at Edinburgh Gateway station, it could have been modified to allow tram-trains like the Class 399 tram-train to come from the Airport and then go straight onto the Fife Circle Line to South Gyle, Haymarket and Edinburgh stations.

At present this line is not electrified, but doing that is probably in Scotrail’s wish-list.

Once at Edinburgh station, the tram-trains could take any of the electrified routes to North Berwick, Dunbar or perhaps Penicuik.

Passengers would finally get a proper interchange between trains on the East Coast Main Line and the Edinburgh tram.

I also think that the Germans would run tram-trains on the Fife Circle Line and its proposed extension to Leven.

Currently, the frequency of trains on the Fife Circle Line is low and tram-trains could probably give a four tph service to all stations, if electrification was put in place.


I believe that it would be possible to open a single-track branch to Penicuik with single-platform stations and these objectives.

  • Provide a two tph service between Penicuik and Edinburgh.
  • Boost the service between the Park-and-Ride at Newcraighall and Edinburgh to four tph.
  • Provide an alternative Southern terminal for a North-South service across Edinburgh.

Electrification of the line might give operational advantages to Millerhill TMD, the Borders Railway and the branch itself.

June 13, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 3 Comments

Extending The Borders Railway To Carlisle

Summary Case For A New Cross-Border Rail Link

This is the title of a report by the Campaign For Borders Rail (CBR) about extending the Borders Railway to Carlisle.

The report is in PDF form at this location.

It goes into detail about why they believe that the railway is worth building and the excellent report is recommended to anybody who wants to know more about the possible reasons for creating a rail service between Edinburgh and Carlisle via Hawick.

Before discussing the proposed route and the problems in detail, I will give my views on some general issues, that affect the design of the railway.

Single-Track Or Double-Track?

In the Wikipedia entry for the Borders Railway, there is a section entitled Infratructure Capability, which starts like this.

The line’s construction has been described as resembling a “basic railway” built to a tight budget and incorporating a number of cost-saving features. This is in contrast to the reopened Airdrie-Bathgate Rail Link, which was built as a double-track electrified railway from the outset.

The section then says that dynamic passing loops were shortened, bridges were built single-track and there is a lack of a siding, which could make it difficult for a locomotive to recover a broken down train.

The railway was designed down to a cost, but these factors applied.

  • There were two tunnels at Bowshank and Torwoodlee, three major viaducts and several stations to be refurbished or built.
  • Despite the best efforts of forecasters, no-one had any clue as to how many passengers would use the line.

I think that in the design of the rest of the route the following factors will apply.

  • The engineers will have the benefit of 20/20 hindsight from rebuilding the first section and its successful operation.
  • The expected passenger traffic will be more easily forecast.
  • There are several viaducts.
  • There is the single-track Whitrope tunnel, which is over a kilometre long.
  • Recent developments in construction, rolling stock and signalling will help.
  • The CBR report suggests five stations at Melrose, St. Boswells, Hawick, Newcastleton and Longtown.
  • The CBR report suggests using the line for freight.
  • The CBR report suggests using the line as a diversion route.

But surely the biggest factor affecting the line will be the connection to Carlisle, as it will open up several possibilities.

  • Carlisle could become a very important hub for tourists.
  • Carlisle could become an even more important shopping and leisure centre.
  • Carlisle will be very important in the event of Scottish independence.
  • Carlisle could become a distribution centre and interchange for Anglo-Scottish road and rail freight.

So instead of just designing to a cost, when designing the second half of the Borders Railway, they will be building a railway, that maximises return from a line to handle a particular capacity.

Given some sections like the Whitrope tunnel are single-track and that in some places it could be difficult to squeeze a double-track through, I think we’ll see the some innovative use of single-track.

Electrification Or Self-Powered?

There is already some short sections of electrification on the original Waverley Route from Edinburgh to Carlisle.

  • Edinburgh to Newcrasighall – Just over five miles.
  • Longtown to Carlisle – Around twelve miles.

As electrifying the route could be difficult for engineering and environmental reasons, I suspect that like the first section of the Borders Railway, the route will generally be built without electrification.

Although, I wouldn’t be surprised if the existing electrification, were to be extended for a few miles, if it gave operational advantages, if the line were to be run using bi-mode trains, perhaps if they were trains with onboard energy storage.

But as there is already a much faster fully-electrified route via Carstairs, they would have to be very good reasons to electrify more of the Borders Railway.

What Will Be The Operating Speed Of An Extended Borders Railway?

The current operating speed of the Borders Railway is 90 mph, so I would assume that at least this speed will apply to the whole line.

South of Hawick, there might be scope for slightly higher speeds, if the track-bed is profiled for modern trains.

What Trains Should Be Used?

Because of the electrification at both ends of the route, I would use bi-mode trains or perhaps ScotRail’s 2+4 or 2+5 High Speed Trains.

Looking at the specification of the economy bi-mode train; the Class 319 Flex train, it has the following characteristics.

  • Four-cars
  • Legendary Mark 3 coach ride.
  • 100 mph capability on overhead electrification.
  • 90 mph capability on diesel.
  • Toilets
  • The ability to change from diesel to electric at line speed.

The train can also be refurbished to any required standard, which as the trains are Mark 3 coach-based, means it could be to a very high standard.

I have no doubt, that a Class 319 Flex train or a new train to a similar specification would be an ideal train for the Extended Borders Railway.

As it appears that trains like bi-mode Class 800 and the new Class 720 trains might be able to work the route in the future and they are five-car, all platforms will have to be this length or the trains could use selective door-opening.

I know there is no bi-mode Class 720 train ordered at the moment, but the Aventras have been laid out in such a way, that I suspect they could be built as bi-modes.

Don’t discount the possibility, that the next generation of bi-mode trains will have onboard energy storage, regenerative braking and the ability to do perhaps thirty miles on stored energy.

Currently, trains take fifty-seven minutes to go from Edinburgh to Tweedbank and fifty-five minutes to return, and it looks like ScotRail uses four trains to provide two trains per hour (tph).

If you assume that the average speed of the journey to Carlisle is the same, then that gives a time of two hours forty minutes for Edinburgh to Carlisle. I suspect that with modern bi-mode trains with a 100 mph capability and better stopping performance, that a time of two hours thirty minutes will be possible.between Edinburgh and Carlisle,

But it has to be born in mind that much faster times between Edinburgh and Carlisle are currently achieved on the fully electrified route via Carstairs.

So train operators will have plenty of scope to provide a quality service between Edinburgh and Carlisle.

Will High Speed Trains Work The Extended Borders Railway?

Now there’s a though!

Network Rail will probably want the route to be available to the New Measurement Train, so that they can adequately check the track.

Effectively, the NMT is just a High Speed Train in a garish yellow, with lots of sophisticated test equipment on board instead of passengers.

So this will mean that ScotRail’s 2+4 or 2+5 High Speed Trains, will be able to work the route, subject to platforms being long enough.

What Level Of Passenger Service Will Be Provided On The Borders Railway?

Currently, there is generally a two tph service between Edinburgh and Tweedbank and I would feel that all stations on the line need at least this level of service.

But as a stopping service from Edinburgh to Carlisle will take well in excess of two hours, I don’t think we’ll be seeing that sort of service.

But don’t rule out a semi-fast train stopping at perhaps the important stations like Galashiels, Melrose, St. Boswells and Hawick.

Will Freight Trains Work The Extended Borders Railway?

The CBR report is suggesting that freight trains will work the route, to get timber from the Keilder Forest.

This and other specialist freight trains will certainly be possible.

On the other hand, I suspect it will be unlikely, that container trains will use the route between Edinburgh and Carlisle, as the other route via Carstairs is electrified and will surely be faster.

Anything more than the occasional specialist freight train would probably be very different to schedule on the route.

Will The Extended Borders Railway Be Used As A Diversion For The West Coast Main Line?

It would need to be designed for such use.

There should be no problem with freight trains provided the route can handle trains up to about eight hundred metres long. So there may need to be adjustment to some of the passing loops on the existing section from Edinburgh to Tweedbank.

With passenger trains, if  the Borders Railway can handle five-car trains, then running a shuttle train between Edinburgh and Carlisle, using a bi-mode Class 800 train, wouldn’t be a problem.

It’s a good reason for making sure that HSTs can work the Extended Borders Railway.

Would the capacity at the Northern end, be able to handle more than the occasional diverted train?

But I question the need for the need for the route to have the capability

When Storm Frank damaged the viaduct at Lamington in December 2015, it effectively blocked the West Coast Main Line routes to Edinburgh and Glasgow.

There are four routes to Edinburgh and Glasgow from England.

  • The West Coast Main Line to Glasgow
  • The West Coast Main Line to Edinburgh
  • The East Coast Main Line to Edinburgh
  • The Glasgow South Western Line to Glasgow.

But in a couple of years, there should be big differences to 2015.

  • There will be a frequent high-capacity electric train route between Scotland’s two largest cities.
  • Virgin Trains East Coast will have a large number of Class 800 bi-mode trains, that could use the Glasgow South Western Line to get to Carlisle.
  • Scotrail will have a number of short-formation High Speed Trains, that will always get through somewhere.
  • Edinburgh to Newcastle and Manchester will have extra capacity.
  • Carlisle to Newcastle will have more capacity.

Network Rail have even future-proofed the Settle and Carlisle Line, which would enable Virgin Trains East Coast’s Class 800 trains to get to Leeds via Carstairs and Carlisle, in the event of closure of the East Coast Main Line.

I think any sane railway engineer would say that although it would be nice to be able to use the Extended Borders Railway as a diversion route, because of other developments, it wouldn’t be necessary.

Perhaps the following should be done instead of making the Extended Borders Railway a fully-functioning diversion route.

  • Increase the resilience of the current four routes between Edinburgh and Glasgow and England.
  • Increase the capacity between Carlisle and Edinburgh via Carstairs.
  • Increase the capacity on the Glasgow South Western Line.

In the medium to long term, the Glasgow South Western Line should probably be electrified.

Extending The Borders Railway To Hawick

The CBR report revealed to me, something that I hadn’t realised. Newtown St. Boswells is the headquarters of the Scottish Borders Council.

Surely, this means that Newtown St. Boswells needs a rail connection to Edinburgh and good transport connections to the rest of the region.

This Google Map shows the area from the end of the Borders Railway at Tweedbank station to the two villages of Newtown St. Boswells and St. Boswells.


  1. Tweedbank station is in the North-West corner.
  2. Newtown St. Boswells and St. Boswells are in the South-East corner
  3. The route passes the Borders General Hospital and the town of Melrose.

A lot of the track-bed is still visible and this Google Map shows the villages of Newtown St. Boswells and St. Boswells in more detail.

It would appear that the old Waverley Route splits into two, just South of Newton St. Boswells with the Waverley Route going South to Hawick and  the Kelso Line going East to Kelso.

I have flown my virtual helicopter on the route from Tweedbank to Hawick and it would appear that the challenges of extending to Hawick are as follows.

  • Squeezing a double-track railway alongside the A6091 to the South of Melrose.
  • Crossing the A68 at Newton St. Boswells, where there may already be a road bridge over the track-bed.
  • Squeezing a double-track railway through Newtown St. Boswells.
  • The Ale Water Viaduct

There are also a few farm buildings and factories that may block the track-bed.

It would appear that extending the Borders Railway from the current Tweedbank station to a new station on the outskirts of Hawick, would not be the greatest of engineering problems, but it would link the railway to important stations at the following locations.

  • Borders General Hospital and/or Melrose
  • Newton St. Boswells
  • Hawick

Modern signalling might allow the efficient use of single-track railway, where it was needed for reasons of space.

Tweedbank, Melrose Or Hawick As An Interim Terminal For The Borders Railway

In the Wikipedia entry for the Borders Railway, there is a section called Failure To Continue To Melrose. This is said.

The Scott Wilson Report did not consider extending the line beyond Tweedbank due to the increased capital and operating costs of continuing further without a corresponding increase in passenger demand. The Campaign for Borders Rail consider nevertheless that there would have been a strong case for reaching Melrose on the basis of the town’s role in Borders tourism.

I do wonder, if Scotrail wanted Tweedbank because of the following.

  • Edinburgh to Tweedbank takes around 55-57 minutes, so two tph can be achieved with four trains.
  • Edinburgh to Melrose would take just over the hour, so is very difficult to timetable and would need more trains.

If the current Edinburgh to Tweedbank time of around 55-57 minutes, is used to estimate a time for Hawick, you get something just over eighty minutes, which makes a three-hour round trip very feasible.

If two tph were to run between Edinburgh and Hawick, you’d need six trains.

Scotrail could have even said no to Melrose, as mathematically it’s all wrong and expensive for a train operator.

But Hawick is much better!

An Edinburgh To Hawick Passenger Service

I can’t help feeling that the mathematics of the route and response of the people of the Borders to their new Borders Railway, says very strongly, that the route of the initial Borders Railway should have been between Edinburgh and Hawick, with intermediate stops at Borders General Hospital/Melrose and Newtown St. Boswells.

Scotrail seem to be proposing three-car Class 170 trains for the current route, which would be ideal for Edinburgh to Hawick.

If these three-car trains, running at a frequency of two tph, should not prove to be enough, then four or even five-car trains could provide the extra capacity.

Could Kelso Be Linked To The Borders Railway?

Previously, I noted that a branch leads from St. Boswells to Kelso. From Kelso, it used to lead to the East Coast Main Line and also to Jedburgh and Coldsteam in the South.

It would appear that the line can’t be easily reinstated, as the route has been used for a new road, although much of the track-bed is unobstructed and easily spotted on Google Maps.

But it might be possible to create a branch to the outskirts of Kelso, if that were to be needed.

I suspect though, it would only be needed, if Kelso staged a major sporting event, like the Olympic or Commonwealth Games.

A Branch To Penicuik

In the Wikipedia entry for the Borders Railway, this is a paragraph about a future branch to Penicuik.

In May 2013, it was reported that Heriot-Watt University had been asked by Midlothian Council to carry out a feasibility study on a 10-mile (16 km) rail link connecting Penicuik with the Borders Railway. At least 6 miles (9.7 km) of the new line would follow the Edinburgh, Loanhead and Roslin Railway, the alignment of which is generally intact between Millerhill and Straiton.

This proposal is not mentioned in the CBR report, so I have made it a separate post with a title of A Branch To Penicuik From The Borders Railway.

This was my conclusion

I believe that it would be possible to open a single-track branch to Penicuik with single-platform stations and these objectives.

  • Provide a two tph service between Penicuik and Edinburgh.
  • Boost the service between the Park-and-Ride at Newcraighall and Edinburgh to four tph.
  • Provide an alternative Southern terminal for a North-South service across Edinburgh.

Electrification of the line might give operational advantages to Millerhill TMD, the Borders Railway and the branch itself.

I very much think that the branch to Pencuik will be built..


This Google Map shows the centre of Hawick. Hawick station occupied what is now the site of the Teviotdale Leisure Centre.

After the station, the line crossed the River Teviot on a viaduct, to the East of the two bridges.

This entry for Hawick in Disused Stations, gives a lot more details on the station and says that the station site was cleared and the viaduct was demolished in the 1970s.

Getting the Borders Railway through Hawick would appear to be a very challenging engineering problem.

I suspect that Network Rail looked hard at the Waverley Route, when they were designing the current Borders Railway and decided that the cost would be too great if the railway was reconstructed through Hawick.

Incidentally, I can’t find any plans or speculation on the Internet about how to get the Borders Railway through the town.

So what do I think will happen?

Looking at maps of the area, it could be that an avoiding line swinging around the East of Hawick to pick up the line going South to England, might be possible, but the River Teviot meanders all over the place and gets in the way.

So perhaps the solution is to use a modern bow-spring bridge on the original route taken by the Victorians.

Certainly, bridge design has been on an upward curve for the last few years.

But then the good citizens of Hawick might not like to have a massive intruder in their midst.

If pushed, I would say the Borders Railway through Hawick will have the following characteristics.

  • Single-track through the town.
  • An elegant bridge over the Teviot.
  • A simple station in the town centre.
  • A Park-and-Ride station, to the North-East of the town with good access to the A698.
  • No freight trains, except Network Rail maintenance trains.

I think designed properly, services from both stations could be something like.

  • Two tph to Edinburgh stopping at all stations.
  • Two tph to Carlisle stopping at Newcastlton and Longtown.

This would mean that Hawick would also have a Park-and-Ride with a four tph service to the town centre.

But I’m sure that modern signalling and good driving can get four tph in each direction between two stations.

Both stations might have two bi-directional platforms on an island, with one face for through trains and the other for trains terminating in the station.

Hawick To Longtown

It does appear from my virtual helicopter, that a lot of the track-bed is intact South of the River Teviot in Hawick to Longtown on the other side of the Border.

The track-bed can be picked out and in many places it runs through gaps in the trees.

It doesn’t seem to be the most difficult of projects, with three obvious parts with possible difficulties.

It certainly looks to be one of the easier parts of the route of an Extended Borders Railway.

A Branch To Langholm

This article on the BBC is entitled Langholm station considered in Borders Railway extension study.

This map from Wikipedia shows the location of Langholm station with respect to Newcastleton and Longtown stations.

Opening a station at Langholm is an idea, that could make it easier to provide a four tph service between Carlisle and Longtown, with two tph to each of Hawick and Langholm.

Transporting Timber By Rail

The CBR report says this about transporting timber by rail.

The huge forestry plantations across the border area, including Keilder, have reached maturity and provide a continuous supply of timber. Part of the output is taken by lorry to a Carlisle railhead for transport to English markets. A new railhead would allow loading closer to the forests, cutting environment impacts and road traffic, and extending the customer base.

It wouldn’t be the greatest additional cost to create a rail head, where timber could be loaded.

But any thoughts of reopening the Border Counties Railway to Keilder, should probably be discounted.

Longtown To Carlisle

In Enthusiasm For The Borders Railway In Carlisle, I talked about the English section of the route.

This was my conclusions about the section.

The CBR report, recommends a Park-and-Ride at Longtown and I wonder, if developments there might be the key to rebuilding the Waverley Route on a more economic basis.

A lot would depend on whether the Defence Munitions Centre at Longtown continues to be used, but the following could be built in the area.

  • The proposed Park-and-Ride.
  • A Strategic Rail Freight Interchange.
  • Distribution warehouses.
  • Factories that need lots of space and good rail and road access.

A lot would depend on what the locals want and whether Scotland became independent, for which the site must be ideally placed.

If the track-bed of the old Waverley Route is still present and can be used to Carlisle, this route could be developed as a rail route, which might have advantages.

  • It has its own route to Carlisle station with a separate bridge over the River Eden.
  • The West Coast Main Line bridge over the River Eden appears to be only double-track.
  • Would it improve timings to and from Glasgow and Edinburgh on the West Coast Main Line?
  • Could it be used as a diversion route for freight trains on the West Coast Main Line through Carlisle?
  • Extra stations could be opened on the route, that could improve connectivity in the City
  • There is probably few paths on the West Coast Main Lines for extra trains from Longtown and/or a reinstated Waverley Route to Edimburgh.

But would the extra cost be justified?

Done properly, as the CBR report says, improving the railways between Carlisle and a new Park-and-Ride at Longtown, would surely improve the Carlisle economy.

I very much feel that there are a great many advantages in improving the West Coast Main Line at the same time as the Waverley Route is rebuilt.

A Carlisle To Longtown Passenger Service

From Carlisle to Longtown, there could be a lot of passengers because of the employment opportunities and Park-and-Ride facilities and four tph will probably be needed for a Turn-Up-And-Go service.

There won’t be any shortage of trains that could stop at both Carlisle and Longtown as they could include these passing trains.

  • Two tph between Carlisle and Hawick
  • Two tph between Carlisle and Edinburgh via Carstairs.
  • Four tph between Carlisle and Glasgow.

If Langholm is served by a branch of the Borders Railway, this would be an ideal terminus for a two tph service to Carlisle, that stopped at all stations.

Longtown station could be a real engine of growth for the area and a superb Park-and-Ride for the city.

A Carlisle To Hawick Passenger Service

I think it is likely that Newcastleton station, which is the only proposed station between Longtown and Hawick, will not generate a lot of revenue.

  • Newcastleton is not that far from Longtown, so if you are going from the area to Edinburgh,you’d probably be more likely to go to a station with masses of parking and much faster trains to Edinburgh.
  • Similarly, if you were going to Carlisle, you’d probably drive to Longtown, unless you could walk or cycle to the station.
  • Some would question, whether a station is needed at Newcasstleton.

In the days of the Waverley Route, stations like Newcastleton weren’t very busy.

I think that this points to doing something like the following.

  • Make the operating speed of the line between Longtown and Hawick as fast as possible.
  • Design Newcastleton station, so that stops can be performed in as short a time as possible.
  • Run two tph between Carlisle and Hawick only stopping at Longtown and Newcastleton.

The service could terminate at either Hawick or Edinburgh.

If it was the latter, it would have an appropriate stopping pattern to the capital.

A Carlisle To Edinburgh Via Hawick Passenger Service

The Carlisle to Edinburgh service on the electrified line via Carstairs, running approximately every thirty minutes, has a journey time of an hour and twenty minutes.

Not only is it faster now, than the two hours and thirty minutes, I estimate a train will take via Hawick, but the following applies.

  • The service via Carstairs will get faster.
  • The service via Carstairs also calls at Haymarket station.
  • Services could stop at Longstow station with its Park-and-Ride.

So how many passengers between Carlisle and Edinburgh will take the slower Borders Railway?

I might be that the best use of trains, is to split the service at Hawick and run the following trains.

  • Two tph between Edinburgh and Hawick stopping at all stations.
  • Two tph between Hawick and Carlisle stopping at Newcastlton and Longtown.

Passengers between say Carlisle and Galashiels would change at Hawick.

There is certainly some serious thinking to do, as to what service to provide.

An Anglo-Scottish Project

The more, I seem to find positive English newspaper reports on the proposed extension of the Borders Railway to Carlisle, the more I’m convinced that the project should be an Anglo-Sottish project.

The rebuilding of the Waverley Route between Edinburgh and Carlisle can be split into the following sections,

  1. Carlisle To Longtown – English – Totally within England.
  2. Tweedbank To St. Boswells – Scottish
  3. St. Boswells To Hawick – Scottish
  4. Hawick To Longtown – Anglo-Scottish
  5. The Line Through Hawick – Scottish

The sections would be done in the order shown.

  • Carlisle to Longtown is a major project in its own right, which would increase the capacity and speed trains through Carlisle on the West Coast Main Line.
  • Tweedbank To Hawick would give a much needed link to Edinburgh for Melrose, St. Boswells and Hawick.
  • Hawick To Longtown would connect Hawick to England.

Temporary stations might be provided on both sides of Hawick, They could be linked temporarily by a shuttle bus.

Only when everything else was complete would the link across Hawick be connected.


These are my conclusions about the project.

Two Conventional End Sections And A Very Tricky Hawick

I very much feel that the Extended Borders Railway will effectively be two very busy end sections, dominated by commuting, shopping and leisure  at Carlisle and |Edinburgh, with a very tricky centre section at Hawick.

The end sections and South from Hawick will be very conventional.

  • The Edinburgh end needs to be extended via the Borders General Hospital, Melrose and Newtown St. Boswell to a Park-and-Ride station at Hawick.
  • The Carlisle end needs to be remodelled both to creeate a decent service between Carlisle and Longtown and increase the capacity on the West Coast Main Line.
  • From Hawick to Longtown, there is one large viaduct and a long single-track tunnel that will need refurbishing.
  • There is probably a maximum of six new stations. to be built.

I suspect that good design will cut the building costs to a minimum.

One thing that is needed is an innovative solution for getting through or around Hawick.

My solution, probably won’t work, but I don’t care, as my mission is to inform and make people think of solutions that will.

Bi-Mode Trains

I also believe that services on the Borders Railway should be run by bi-mode trains, as the two ends of the route are electrified.

The next generation of b-mode trains will have onboard energy storage, which will be used to handle regenerative braking energy, thus making the trains more energy efficient and less dependent on diesel power.

Hawick Is A Better Terminal For The Borders Railway Than Tweedbank

It’s all in the mathematics, which say that Melrose is a non-starter.

Langholm Branch

As it helps increase frequency, where it’s needed between Carlisle and Longtown, it’s a good idea.

Few Passengers Will Go Between Carlisle And Edinburgh

Speed is everything and I can’t see many passengers between the two largest cities on the route, using the Extended Borders Railway instead of the traditional electrified route.

It will be so much slower and not as convenient.

The Southern Part Of The Route Is Mainly About England And Hawick

Carlisle to Longtown needs improvement to create employment, improve the West Coast Main Line and local rail routes in Carlisle.

Hawick will benefit, as it is on the route, but there are few people between Hawick and Carlisle, who will need the railway! And there’s only one station.

The CBR Report Says Nothing About HS2

HS2 will happen and the CBR report says nothing about it.

A Cut Down Project Might Be Better Value

It could be argued, that the following two separate projects would be better value.

An English project which improves the West Coast Main Line from Carlisle to Longtown. This would.

  • Create employment at the Defence Munitions Centre at Longtown.
  • Build a Park-and-Ride for Carlisle.
  • Improve the West Coast Main Line through Carlisle.
  • Get ready for HS2.

It might even create a commuter railway to Newcastleton and/or Langholm

A Scottish project that extends the current Borders Railway to Hawick. This would.

  • Build a Park-and-Ride station just outside Hawick, with good connections to the A698.
  • Build intermediate  stations at Borders General Hospital/Melrose and Newtown St. Boswells.
  • Expand Edinburgh’s commuter area.
  • Enable new housing around Newtown St. Boswells.

I also think that if the Borders Railway terminated at Hawick, the distance makes it easier for the train operator to provide a clock-face passenger service of two trains per hour.


June 10, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment