The Anonymous Widower

Boost For Borders In New Report

This report on the Scottish Government web site is entitled Borders Transport Corridors – Pre-Appraisal.

It is a comprehensive report with a helpful pag of recommendations.

Recommendations that apply to rail include.

Develop Forestry Route Network

Improve network of internal forestry tracks as well as its connections to roads and railway, including ‘low-tech’ timber
pickup facilities.

This seems sensible, as some of the forests on both sides of the Scottish order are mature and need to be cut down and replanted.

Increase Park and Ride Provision

Increase capacity of existing Park-and-Ride sites and implement new Park-and-Ride schemes for all modes at strategic locations [e.g. Interchanges and Key Employment Areas]

Every part of the UK seems to need more Park-and-Ride. The Borders is no exception.

Borders Railway Extension – South/West

Extend the Borders Railway to Hawick and/or Carlisle

Will it go all the way to Carlisle?


  • The West Coast Main Line will need a capacity increase through Carlisle because of High Speed Two. These works could be combined with those on the Southern part of the Borders Railway.
  • Plans exist for a large freight interchange at Longtown on the former MoD site.
  • Linking the Tourist areas North and South of the Scottish Border by rail must be a good thing.
  • Extension to Carlisle would give those in the Scottish Borders access to High Speed Two at Carlisle, without a long trip via Glasgow.

For these reasons, I think that the Borders Railway will go to Carlisle.

Borders Railway Extension – South/East

Extend the Borders Railway towards East Coast Main Line (ECML) via Berwick-upon-Tweed

This surprised me, but it does complete the jigsaw.

Does it offer a freight route for moving the timber out of the area?

It woulde certainly offer a scenic route between Edinburgh and Newcastle.

New Rail Stations

New rail stations on the existing Borders Railway

This is surely building on the success of the current Borders Railway.

Extension of Borders Railway Services

Link Borders Railway and Fife Circle, providing interchange at Edinburgh Gateway; West Edinburgh; and potential future link to Glasgow.

Back-to-back services across a city are always a good idea, as they cut the need for terminal platforms

  • The Borders Railway and Fife Circle are both half-hourly services, so could be connected together, once suitable rolling stock is available.
  • This service would also connect the Borders to the Edinburgh Airport tram at Edinburgh Gateway.
  • With extra services, would the capacity of the Borders Railway will probably need to be increased?

Does the South East extension enable better services for the Borders beyond Edinburgh?


There are a lot of projects needing to be developed, but they will create a lot of economic activity in the Borders.

The two railway extensions to Hawick and/or Carlisle and Berwick-on-Tweed are the two most expensive projects, but both have English implications, so I don’t think Westminster will mind paying some of the cost.

March 12, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Killing Time In Carlisle

I miscalculated my journey back from Glasgow and have a lot of time to kill in Carlisle.

So I’m in the Costa outside the station, charging my phone and writing these posts.

It’s a convenient place to recharge.

September 12, 2017 Posted by | Food, 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

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

Borders Railway Extension Prospects Studied

This is the title of a news item on the BBC web site.

This is the first two paragraphs.

A new study is to look at the possibility of extending the Borders Railway beyond Tweedbank to Carlisle.

Transport Scotland has announced it intends to award the contract to look at wider transport issues across the south of the country to Jacobs UK Ltd.

I have this belief, that it would be in everybody’s interest to see Carlisle developed as an interchange between all the lines meeting in the city.

In September 2015, I wrote If Manchester Victoria And Birmingham New Street Were The First Two Courses, Is Carlisle The Third?, which details how Network Rail are spending £14.7million to improve Carlisle station.

Rail Services From Carlisle

Carlisle has its fair share of touristic rail lines in addition to the West Coast Main Line between Glasgow and the South.

The Settle and Carlisle has recently been rebuilt and Northern are providing better services on all the English routes, they service.

What is missing is a connection to Edinburgh via the Borders Railway!

What would it do for Carlisle’s position as a tourist destination to have a connection to the Borders and the Scottish Capital?


In any discussion of rail services North of London, HS2 always makes an appearance. I reckon that the journey time from London to Carlisle will drop by at least thirty minutes, so will be under three hours.


I come to the conclusion, that extending the Borders Railway to Carlisle is not solely a Scottish project, but an English one as well!




April 11, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

Carlisle To Glasgow By The Scenic Route

One of the reasons for my trip to Carlisle station, that I wrote about in Carlisle Station Gets A Makeover, was to explore the Glasgow South Western Line, which was the only line in the Borderlands, that I hadn’t explored.

These pictures tell the story.

My first reaction to the line is that, the well-maintained stations need more services.

I’ll put my thoughts in the following section.

More Services

Abellio Scotrail have ordered new electric Class 385 trains from Hitachi, which comprise eighty train sets, that total 192 carriages.

These can’t run on the Glasgow South Western Line, but will replace several modern diesel multiple units for service all over Scotland.

I suspect that if the Borders Railway gets four car trains, then there would be some lengthening and increase of frequency on this route.

Incidentally, the conductor on the train I took, said that more services will certainly come.

An Improved Diversion Route

What is more likely to drive improvements is the need for a diversion or alternative route for the West Coast Main Line between Glasgow and Carlisle.

Reasons could include.

  • The West Coast Main Line is very busy.
  • Diversions because of blockades or bad weather.
  • There is a need for more Anglo-Scottish freight services.
  • Freight services will be increasingly hauled by electric or bi-mode locomotives.

Unlike many diversion routes, the Glasgow South Western Line is an 80 mph line with sections of double-track and 100 mph maximum speed


Electrification of the diversion route, would probably be essential, as most traffic on the West Coast Main Line uses electric traction.

The conductor I spoke to, was surprised that British Rail hadn’t electrified the line in the 1970s, at the same time of the major West Coast Electrification.

As schemes go, it wouldn’t be the most expensive of schemes., as the line appeared to go through fairly easy countryside, with not many bridges and tunnels.

But the biggest advantage is that at both ends of the line, there are electrified lines, that can be used to provide power for the line at both ends.

Look at this Google Map of Gretna Green station‘s position with relation to the West Coast Main Line..

Gretna Green Station And The West Coast Main Line

Gretna Green Station And The West Coast Main Line

At the Northern end of the line, there is masses of electrification in and around Glasgow.

Electrification of the route must have other advantages.

  • Services could be provided by Class 385 trains.
  • Kilmarnock gets an electric train service.

But surely,  the biggest, is that modern electric trains would speed up the service considerably.






June 21, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

More Steam Up For The Borders Railway Extension To Carlisle

This article on the BBC, which is entitled Call for Borders Railway extension to Carlisle renewed during Lamington work, is typical of many articles in papers like the Glasgow Herald and Scotsman, and on vartious media web sites.

In ‘Encouraging signs’ on Borders Railway Extension to Carlisle, I felt that as Network Rail are creating a hub to connect all the scenic routes in the Borderland together, that the Borders Railway should be extended to Carlisle and other routes should either be electrified or upgraded so that passenger services could be run by four-car electric trains or IPEMUs.

The failure of the Lamington viaduct and its closure until March, illustrates why we need more diversion routes, not just in the Borderlands, but everywhere it is feasible.

February 6, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

An Early Sunday Start From Burnley To Manchester

I started early and took the 08:39 train from Burnley Manchester Road station to Manchester Victoria station.

It is a picturesque ride around the Todmorden Curve, over valleys on high viaducts and through traditional stone-built villages and towns, with the hills of the Pennines in the background and quite a bit of water alongside the rail line.

The line has improved greatly in the last few years and there are lots of tidy stations, with seats, shelters and information boards. The only larger ones are Burnley Manchester Road, Todmorden and Rochdale.

Despite the early hour on a Sunday, there were quite a few passengers and the train was about three-quarters full at Manchester Victoria.

Thinking back to my first time by train to Burnley in 2011, the rail link has improved dramatically.

  • A smart new station has been built.
  • The Todmorden Curve has been opened to provide a direct train service to Manchester.
  • An hourly service links Burnley and Manchester Victoria via the curve.

From reports, I’ve read, the line is well-used.

This question has to be asked – Could the line be electrified?

Look at some of the pictures and they show the challenging nature of electrifying the line.

  • From Burnley to Todmorden, there are a number of well-built Victorian stone over-bridges.
  • Also on this stretch there are at least two high stone viaducts.
  • There are several tunnels, includin the Summit Tunnel, which is 2.6 km. long and has been in continuous use since the 1840s.
  • Many stations have been upgraded or rebuilt recently.
  • Also in this area, some new bridges across the line for new roads and the Metrolink, seem to appear to be rather low.

Also, look as this section of the line between Burnley and Todmorden.

Between Burnley And Todmorden

Between Burnley And Todmorden

Note how the rail line curves between the hills and the houses, using tunnels and viaducts to get go on its way.

It’s one of those lines, where you’d try to find an alternative to traditional electrification. If it’s not space, it’s heritage issues and there would be lots of bridges, viaducts and tunels to rebuild.

Go west from Burnley and the line has a couple of high viaducts and a couple of tunnels, but the East Lancashire Line seems to get easier west of Blackburn station, with a line over mainly flat countryside with plenty of space on either side. At Preston it connects to the electrified West Coast Main Line.

Electrifying from Preston to Blackburn, would open up several routes to the use of IPEMU trains.

  • Blackpool South to Colne – A substantial part of the route of the fifty mile route from Blackpool South to Colne would be electrified and from the performance figures I’ve seen, this route would be an easy one for something like an  IPEMU-variant of a four-car Class 387 train.
  • Burnley to Manchester – The service I rode from Burnley to Manchester starts at Blackburn and finishes in a fully electrified Manchester Victoria.  So to answer my original question about whether the route could be electrified, there is actually no need to electrify, as IPEMUs could easily link two electrified terminals over that distance.
  • Manchester to Clitheroe – Look at the Ribble Valley Line on Wikipedia and there are five viaducts and three tunnels listed, in a line of around thirty miles. However, the good news is three-fold. The line has been well looked after, it’s promoted as a tourist attraction and soon, it will be electrified from Manchester as far as Bolton. I can’t see why with a small top-up at Blackburn, that this route couldn’t be run by an IPEMU.
  • Blackpool North to Settle – This route is run as a tourist train called DalesRail on Sundays in the Summer, when it goes all the way to Carlisle. An IPEMU could certainly run a service between Blackpool North and Settle, but I doubt it could stretch all the way to Carlisle along the Settle-Carlisle Line, as there are some massive gradients on that line.
  • Blackpool North to Leeds – This route along the Calder Valley Line via Hebden Bridge, Halifax and Bradford would be totally within range of an IPEMU, once Blackburn to Preston is electrified. If necessary, Leeds to Bradford could be electrified as well. A train fit for the Northern Powerhouse, powered by batteries and built in Derby!

This all illustrates how an IPEMU can benefit from even short sections of electrification. Blackburn to Preston would be under twenty miles of electrification without troublesome viaducts and tunnels across fairly flat country and it opens up several routes to new electric trains.

It’s funny, but if you are going to use IPEMU trains, you electrify all the lines, that you can electrify and maintain with ease and leave all the difficult bits to the battery feature in the trains.



January 3, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

If Manchester Victoria And Birmingham New Street Were The First Two Courses, Is Carlisle The Third?

Manchester Victoria and Birmingham New Street stations have one thing in common with the Eden Project – They all have roofs made of a plastic called ETFE.

According to this article on Network Rail’s web site, which is entitled £14.7m upgrade planned for Carlisle station, Network Rail are going to fit a third station with an ETFE roof. This is said.

Eight of the platforms will be rebuilt, and an updated roof will also help to make the station much brighter.

The work will significantly extend the life of the station’s roof structure, which dates back to 1847, as well as reducing the amount of maintenance it will need. The existing roof covering will be replaced with one made from ETFE (ethylene tetrafluoroethylene), the same material used for the roofs of the new Manchester Victoria and Birmingham New Street stations.

There’s also a computer visualisation of how Carlisle station will look.

New Roof At Carlisle Station

New Roof At Carlisle Station

This Google Map shows the station.

Carlisle Station

Carlisle Station

Note there are three through platforms, two bay platforms to the North and three to the South. I don’t think too many of the bay platforms are electrified.

I just wonder, if whilst they are rebuilding the platforms, they will electrify some of the bay platforms. Or at least do the preparation work!

This would enable IPEMUs to be able to be recharged, if they were serving routes out of Carlisle, like the Tyne Valley LineSettle to Carlisle and possibly an extended Borders Railway.

Incidentally, I think that by the time Carlisle station is updated in 2019, IPEMUs or battery trains, would have enough range to reach Edinburgh. You can see the headlines in the Sun!

November 27, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , | 6 Comments

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 | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment