The Anonymous Widower

Edinburgh’s Missing Link

In Edinburgh, I’ve walked in an Easterly direction, several times through Princes Street Gardens, with the final intention of taking a train from Edinburgh station.

But as the pictures show, there’s no way through.

You have to walk up to the road, fight your way across a pedestrian crossing and then walk down a ramp into the station.

Why isn’t there a pedestrian tunnel?

October 14, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

London To Thurso Direct

According to Edition 863 of Rail Magazine, LNER are thinking of doing a demonstration run on this route to show off their new trains.

But is it such a daft idea?

In Rail Sleeper Plan Between Caithness And Edinburgh, I talked about a plan to operate a sleeper service on the route between Edinburgh and Thurso, which currently takes nine hours.

This journey time is definitely territory for those rail enthusiasts, who ride across America, Australia, Europe and Russia, but it is not for me.

But doing the route in day-long segments with a stop in a good hotel, in say Edinburgh and Inverness could open up an iconic tourism route to the Orkney Islands for an increasing number of intrepid travellers, many of whom, like me are past retirement age.

Travel on the Caledonian Sleeper to Inverness and you meet lots of foreign tourists from all over the globe.

On all days except Saturday, there are two services between Inverness and London; a day train to and from Kings Cross and a sleeper to and from Euston.

To go North on Day 1, you take eight hours on a direct train to Inverness, with after an overnight rest, you take four hours to Thurso.

Route Proving For The New Class 800 Trains

So if nothing else it is route proving for Class 800 trains on the service between Kings Cross and Inverness, which because it serves so many places on the Highland Main Line, is an important route to the area.

From the current schedule, it looks like the train will take twelve hours, so there will surely be a lot of driver training possibilities.

It surely, will be a good marketing exercise.

Highland Main Line Improvements

This archived document was produced by Transport Scotland.

This is the first paragraph.

Upgrading the Highland Main Line is one of the Scottish Government’s key priorities. The long-term goal of the project seeks to achieve a fastest journey time of 2 hours 45 minutes between Inverness and the Central Belt with an average journey time of 3 hours and an hourly service by 2025.

A time of three hours between Edinburgh and Inverness could be possible with electrification to Perth.

Far North Line Improvements

The Far North Line between Inverness and Thurso doesn’t appear to be built for speed, as it takes a train about four hours to do the journey.

  • It is 167 miles from Inverness to Thurso.
  • It is mainly single-track with passing places.
  • There are twelve services on the line most days, with fewer on Sundays.

It should also be said, that Caledonian Sleeper are thinking of running a service between Thurso and Edinburgh and/or Glasgow, as I reported in

In the Wikipedia entry for the Far North Line, there is a section called Future Expansion, where this is said.

For many years there have been proposals to bypass the Lairg loop[note  with a line across the Dornoch Firth, linking Tain (via Dornoch, more directly with Golspie. British Rail attempted to get funding for this when the road bridge was built, but the government declined.

Now this project would involve building a new bridge over the Firth, or making dual-purpose the bridge which now carries just the A9. Discussions have been held concerning the shortening of the Far North Line involving a bridge over the Dornoch Firth and the possible use of the trackbed of the former light railway. Nothing has yet come of these ideas.

If an hour could be knocked off the journey time, I suspect it would be very beneficial, to both the local population and visitors.

What Time Could Be Achieved?

I wouldn’t be surprised to see the time between London and Inverness reduced by the Class 800 trains in a couple of years, as the new trains will be able to use electricity South of Stirling and possibly Perth.

With the improvements to the Highland Main Line and better signalling on the East Coast Main Line, I could see a time between London and Inverness of under seven hours.

This would enable a civilised departure from London at say eight in the morning and still be in your castle, hotel or holiday cottage in time for dinner and a wee dram or several.

If improvements were made to the Far North Line, it might be possible to go from London to Thurso in ten hours.

Could The Class 800 Train Continue To Thurso?

A Class 800 train could continue to Thurso and LNER’s test run will probably prove whether it can or not!

It could arrive in Thurso, in time for the evening ferry to the Orkneys.

I think though, that the London service would not be extended to Thurso.

  • The train would have to be fully-replenished at Thurso for the trip South.
  • A nine-car train needed between London and Inverness would be too much capacity for the Inverness to Thurso section.
  • The current Inverness to London service starts at eight in the morning and passengers wouldn’t be happy to leave Thurso at three to go straight through to London.

But I can see the reduced journey time between London and Inverness attracting more passengers to the route.

Enter The Shortened High Speed Train

This article on Rail Magazine is entitled ScotRail HSTs Enter Traffic On October 15.

This is the second paragraph.

Branded Inter7City as they will serve Scotland’s seven cities, the refurbished HST will run initially between Aberdeen and Edinburgh. More routes will follow as more sets arrive from refurbishment.

It also says that the refurbished HSTs will offer.

  • More seats,
  • Increased luggage space.
  • At seat power sockets.
  • Hospitality.

I would also expect wi-fi, comfortable seats, tables and big windows.

With their four or five Mark 3 coaches and two Class 43 power cars each with a diesel engine of around 2,200 bhp, these trains must have superb acceleration.

I estimate that a fully loaded four-car train carrying 250 passengers, will weigh about three hundred tonnes. This gives a power to weight ratio of 11.2 kW/tonne

By comparison, the the original 2+8 sets of the InterCity 125s have a power to weight ratio of 7.3 kW/tonne.

I will also add some other power to weight ratios.

  • New Routemaster bus weighing twenty tonnes with 137 kW – 6.85 kW/tonne.
  • Hummer H2 weighing 2.9 tonnes with 293 kW – 101 kW/tonne.
  • Mini One weighing 1.2 tonnes with 75 kW – 62.5 kW/tonne

Incidentally, my Lotus Elan weighed about 1050 Kg when I was driving and had power of 121 kW. This gives a power to weight ration of 115 kW/tonne.

In Edinburgh to Inverness in the Cab of an HST, I described a memorable ride.

One thing I  noticed, was that the driver controlled the two engines with considerable precision, to make sure, the train was on time on what must be a challenging route, as it climbed, descended and twisted through the Highlands.

With the same amount of power in a train only half the length and weight, I suspect these trains could save time effortlessly, as a good driver in a sports car can on a twisting road.

Also, don’t underestimate the contribution, the replacement of the 1970s-style slam-doors with modern powered units, will contribute at every stop.

I looked at the actual times yesterday of the 12:00 between Kings Cross and Inverness and compared to my journey in the cab, there are less stops. So services are being speeded up and I suspect ScotRail’s trains stop more often.

Transport Scotland talked about a fastest time of two hour forty-five minutes between the Central Belt and Inverness.

When the route between Inverness and Perth has been fully modernised with passing loops, I have a feeling that times will be faster.

They will not only be an iconic forty-year-old train, but a tourist attraction in their own right, like Scottish mountains, tartan food and whisky.

Get Up In London And Go To Bed In The Orkneys

If LNER have an objective in testing London to Thurso with a Class 800 train,, it must be finding a civilised way, to be able to get between London and the Orkneys, by train and ship in both directions within a single day.


  • The first train from Kings Cross to Edinburgh leaves just after 06:00.
  • There has been an aim to run services between the two capitals in under four hours for as long as I can remember.
  • Modern in-cab signalling is being rolled out on the East Coast Main Line to enable 140 mph running.
  • The last ferry to the Orkneys leaves from Scrabster near Thurso at 19:00

With the improvements to the Highland Main Line and electrification to Perth, three hours between Edinburgh and Inverness should be possible in a Class 800 train or a well-driven shortened HST.

This would give LNER options to get to Inverness at a reasonable hour of the day.

Run An Early Train From London To Inverness

This could be timed to leave London at 06:00 and it could be in Inverness at 13:00.

This would give a fast train on the Far North Line six hours, including transfer to move passengers between Inverness and Scrabster.

It looks that ScotRail have the train for the job, in the shape of the shortened HST.

They could also serve an early Scottish dinner, to prepare tourists, for what could be a breezy crossing.

Run A Pair Of Class 800 trains To Both Aberdeen And Inverness

LNER’s Class 800 trains come in two sizes; five-cars and nine-cars.

Two five-cars can run as a ten-car train, that can split and join as required, in under two minutes in a suitable station.

So could we see a pair of five-car Class 800 trains leave Kings Cross and run together to Edinburgh, where one train went to Dundee, Montrose, Stonehaven and Aberdeen and the other went to Stirling, Perth and Inverness.


  • The first train from Kings Cross to Aberdeen leaves at 07:00 in the morning.
  • The journey takes six hours.
  • There are three trains per day between London and Aberdeen.
  • The last direct train that is not a sleeper service leaves just before 15:00.
  • As with the route to Inverness, the route to Aberdeen is not electrified.

I think this option has advantages

There would be an early morning service to Edinburgh and many of the large towns and cities in Eastern Scotland.

The service only uses one path on the East Coast Main Line between London and Edinburgh.

If traffic patterns and passenger numbers are favourable, other Aberdeen services could split and join.

Running a five-car train to Inverness earlier in the day, before the main train of the day, may be a way to provide an economic service to Thurso.

  • A five-car train would probably be more affordable to run.
  • The train would be stabled at Thurso overnight.
  • It would leave for Inverness, Edinburgh and london about 10:00.
  • At Edinburgh, it could join up with an Aberdeen train at around 16:00.

Time-tabled properly, it could result in Inverness and Aberdeen getting an extra train to and from London every day.

Change At Edinburgh

Plans by various rail companies for services include.

  • LNER will continue to run two trains per hour (tph) between Edinburgh and England.
  • LNER would like to run services between London and Edinburgh in under four hours.
  • TransPennine Express will run more services to Edinburgh.
  • ScotRail will run hourly services between the seven major cities in Scotland.
  • Edinburgh to Inverness and Inverness to Thurso should both to become three hour journeys.

Edinburgh will become a very well-connected city.

If Edinburgh to Thurso could be achieved  in six hours, then any service leaving Edinburgh after about 14:00 would catch the last ferry at Scrabster for the Orkneys.

When trains between London and Edinburgh, are regularly achieving the four-hour journey, there will be several trains, that will give a change in Edinburgh suitable for passengers individual preferences.

A single change at Edinburgh could be the preferable route for many.


Because LNER, ScotRail and other train companies now have a large fleet of very capable trains on order, there are several possibilities to create a world-class train service to connect Scotland fully both internally on the mainland and to important destinations in the islands and England.

The renaissance of the HST as a train to provide high-quality services has been astounding.

  • ScotRail are creating twenty-six shortened HSTs for use within Scotland.
  • GWR are creating eleven similar trains for use between Penzance and Cardiff.

I would be very surprised, if more HSTs are not refurbished to modern standards.

Germany may have the Volkwagen Beetle, but we have the High Speed Train.

Could we see them on the following routes?

  • Oxford and Cambridge
  • Waterloo and Exeter
  • North Wales Coast Line
  • Some Cross-Country services

There’s probably enough power-cars and coaches to make another fifty shortened HSTs, so if ScotRail’s trains are a success, I suspect we’ll see some imitation.

I suspect too, that just as engineers have found solutions to the problems in the coaches like the doors and the toilets, they will find a solution, that replaces the diesel engine in each power with some form of more eco-friendly hybrid power pack.


  • MTU, which is a subsidiary of Rolls-Royce, are developing hybrid power packs for diesel multiple units.
  • There is a lot of space in the engine compartment of the power car.
  • On most routes, 90-100 mph running will be sufficient.

Hitachi converted a power-car to work in this way ten years ago.







October 11, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Moving Football From Hampden To Murrayfield Is Vandalism

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

I’m not bothered, as I doubt, I’ll ever go to Scotland to watch an important Scottish football match, that would be played at their National Stadium.

But, I have been to Hampden Park before.

I was there fifty years ago, when Spurs and Celtic drew 3-3 in the Glasgow Cup. I also suspect that the 91,000 plus crowd was the largest, I’ve ever been part of.

And I was at Hampden to see the athletics in the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

I have no view on the historic aspects of the possible move, except that there might be an economic case.

And I also note, France, the Republic of Ireland and Wales all have a stadium, that is shared between football and rugby.

But then Germany and Italy don’t have a national stadium for football.

I can see another big argument between Edinburgh and Glasgow on this decision.

Other the last decade though, transport links between and to and from Scotland’s two major cities have changed.

  • There have been extensions to the road network across Scotland.
  • The rail lines are being electrified and new higher-capacity Class 385 trains are being delivered.
  • Passenger numbers at both Glasgow and Edinburgh Airports have grown.

So at least getting to either stadium is becoming easier.

It will be a difficult decision to call.

August 29, 2018 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Eurostar To And From Amsterdam

On Tuesday I took Eurostar to Amsterdam.

The trip took three hours and forty-one minutes with stops at Brussels and Rotterdam.

The Brussels stop allows passengers to leave and join, but Rotterdam only allows passengers to leave.

As the number of passengers grow between London and Amsterdam, could there come a time, when some or all Amsterdam services don’t need to stop at Brussels.

If so, how much time would this save?

Current stops by Eurostar take the following times.

  • Ashford – 9 mins.
  • Calais – 3 mins
  • Ebbsfleet – 6 mins.
  • Lille – 14 minutes

These times have been calculated by looking at similar services that have different stopping patterns.

Note that, Calais and Ebbsfleet are faster as they are stops on the direct route.

So I suspect that if an Amsterdam service could go through Brussels without stopping, something between 9-12 minutes could be saved.

This could bring the journey time between London and Amsterdam closer to three and a half hours.

What would that time do for sales of tickets?

Eurostar Hold A Lot Of Cards

Eurostar are in a very good position on this route.

  • They could run a flagship express service twice a day for those in a hurry.
  • This could be backed up by slightly slower services calling at places from or to where passengers want to go. These would include Ebbsfleet, Ashford and Antwerp.
  • Immigration and security clearance is probably under thirty minutes at the start of the journey and perhaps ten at the end.
  • Immigration and security times will be reduced, as procedures get better.
  • St. Pancras, Rotterdam Centraal and Amsterdam Centraal are all very well-connected stations.
  • Extra services can be added as demand dictates.
  • Eurostar is more diabled-friendly and those in smaller scooters can drive in!
  • They could extend some Brussels services to Amsterdam.
  • I estimate that just under 4,000,000 people live within the North and South Circular Roads and have easy access by public transport to St. Pancras.

They can also create a very intelligent booking computer system, that optimises their services. Budget airlines have been doing this for years.

What About The Airlines?

Note the numbers of passengers who fly.

According to Skyscanner, there are upwards of two hundred flights a day between London and Amsterdam. An Airbus A320 holds 150 passengers, so if there are only a hundred per flight, that is 20,000 passengers per day.

Looking at the 6th of June, Eurostar are running nine trains between London and Brussels. As each new Class 374 train can hold 900 passengers, that is around 8,000 seats per day.

So the airlines have much more capacity than Eurostar and they can add and remove it, easier than Eurostar can?

The Comfort Factor

I haven’t travelled in steerage on the new trains, as I always pay about thirty-forty pounds extra for Premium Economy, so I get the following benefits.

  • A very pleasant gluten-free meal.
  • A much more spacious environment.
  • It’s also rare that I don’t get a window seat.

But if I did use steerage, it would be a more pleasant experience than flying on a budget airline.

I think it’s been about ten years since I flew to a city within a two-hour flight of London, where there was a rail alternative.

I also tend to come home by rail, where I often get a connection to Brussels or Paris to catch a late Eurostar to London.

Comparing London-Amsterdam With London-Edinburgh

Both routes take about four hours by train, with the Dutch route slightly quicker.

Generally, trains operate between London and Edinburgh half-hourly for much of the day, whereas Eurostar only runs twice a day.

Amsterdam/Rotterdam/Schipol Airport is surely a much bigger market in terms of possible passengers, than the Edinburgh catchment area.

I think we’ll see the astute Dutch, using Eurostar as a marketing tool to attract more passengers to the Netherlands and London’s next airport at Schipol.

Especially, as the British seem very happy with a four-hour train ride in comfort.

Eurostar Will Grow Between London And Amsterdam

For these and other rambling reasons, I think that Eurostar to Amsterdam will grow to be a successful route.

The one thing they must do, is to make it possible to come back to London, without having to clear immigration and security in Brussels.

But Eurostar know that!

Amsterdam Is Just The Hors D’Oeuvre!

Once Eurostar and the Dutch get the route between London and the Netherlands working smoothly, I don’t think it will be long before other routes are inaugurated.

Eurostar have said these could be.

  • Bordeaux
  • Cologne and Frankfurt
  • Geneva

The key will be getting the immigration and security smooth.

I think it will continue to improve, as it seems to do, every time I travel.

Remember, the Belgians, Dutch, French, Germans and Swiss will want it to be smooth, as they will want to market their delights to a whole new market, so suspect a lot of co-operation, despite the decision of Brexit.

But, I think that a limit on a journey time of four or five hours would cut out a lot of other destinations.

Although many of the destinations like Brussels, Cologne, Frankfurt, Geneva and Paris will be places to have an enjoyable day or two before taking another train ride further afield.

The 15:00 From Amsterdam Centraal To Berlin

This train that leaves Amsterdam Centraal just under two hours after the Eurostar arrives and can take you all the way to Berlin, arriving at 21:22.

But this train with a change at Osnabruck, gives you a stopping-off point to Bremen, Hamburg and the Northern part of Germany.

I first came across Osnabruck, when I was left there without a train by Deutsche Bahn, as I wrote about in From Hamburg To Osnabruck By Train.

But I found a delightful hotel on the station forecourt, called the Advena Hotel Hohenzollern.

Trip Advisor give it four out of five and currently say deals are available at under seventy pounds a night.

Osnabruck is not a tourist town, but it sits where the North-South and East-West rail routes cross.


As the network develops, I believe that a whole new form of tourism will take advantage.




May 17, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Scotsman Gives A Warm Welcome To The Class 365 Trains

This article on the Scotsman is entitled New ScotRail Trains To Ease Crush On Edinburgh-Glasgow Line.

The article also has a rather interesting picture of a lorry-mounted train negotiating heavy traffic in Glasgow.

It broadly welcomes the Class 365 trains, and this is a comment from a rail group.

Andrew Stephen, of rail lobby group RailQwest and the Cumbernauld Commuters Association, said: “The Class 365s are perfectly serviceable and comfortable trains – and it is fortunate more than a few four-car sets are available.”

The article also confirms that ten trains will be going North.

As there are a total of forty of the Class 365 trains, that will be replaced by Class 387 trains and new Class 700 trains, I wonder where the others will be deployed.


May 2, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

ScotRail Hires In Class 365s For Glasgow-Edinburgh Route

The title of this post, is the same as thsat of this article on Rail Magazine.

This is the first paragraph.

Three Class 365s have been leased by ScotRail, with more to follow. They will be used on an interim basis on the Edinburgh-Glasgow Queen Street via Falkirk High route while windscreen modifications are made to Class 385s

The Class 365 trains may have been delivered in 1995, but they are no scrapyard specials.

I recently rode one to Cambridge and although some things are dated, the ride is good and they are 100 mph trains, just like the Class 385 trains.

Wikipedia and others reckon that as many as ten trains will go to Crossrail.

How Do The Trains Compare?

The trains are of different generations but how do they compare?

Train Length

On the major route, between Edinburgh and Glasgow, it is intended to run Class 385 trains as seven-car trains formed by a three-car Class 385/0 train

and a four-car Class 385/1 train. As the cars are twenty-three metres long, that gives a train length of 161 metres.

Each four-car Class 365 train is 81.9 metres long, so an eight-car unit would be  just under 164 metres.

I doubt that three metres would cause too many platform-length problems.


The capacity of a three-car Class 385/0 is 206 seats, so I suspect a four-car Class 385/1 would seat around 275. This would give a total capacity for the seven-car train of 481 seats.

I can’t find the capacity of a Class 365 train, but it has 2 +2 seating and a fair sprinkling of tables, so I suspect the capacity of the two different formations is not that different.

Operating Speed

Both trains have a 100 mph operating speed.

Passenger Comfort

I suspect that the Class 385 trains will be more to the standard ciustomers expect, wth wi-fi and power sockets and probably more tables.

But the Class 365 trains are one of the better 100 mph long-distance commuter trains, rating above Thameslink’s new Class 700 trains and below the Class 387 train.


The Class 365 trains will make quality substitutes.

May 1, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment

NR Set To Reach Major Shotts Electrification Milestone Over Easter

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in Rail Technology Magazine.

I’m not totally sure, but it looks like they will complete the overhead wires between Edinburgh and Glasgow along the Shotts Line.

They certainly seem to be moving on apace with electrification in Scotland, unlike around the North West of England.


March 26, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

Exploring The North Berwick Line

The service between Edinburgh and North Berwick stations is going to be one of the first to get the new Class 385 trains.

So I took a quick trip.

The North Berwick Line appears to be a well-maintained line with tidy, simple stations and copious car-parking.

North Berwick station shows how you can have a single-platform station handling two trains per hour (tph), where both are six cars.

The North Berwick Line is becoming increasingly busy and the six-car train I rode out of Edinburgh at ten in the morning was surprisingly busy.

New Class 385 Trains To North Berwick

The current Class 380 trains were built in 2009-2011, so why are the trains being replaced with Class 385 trains on this route?

Both trains have the following shared characteristics.

  • 100 mph running.
  • Three- or four-cars.
  • Modern interiors.
  • Ability to run in pairs with through gangways.

I think that the big difference is that the newer Hitachi trains will have wi-fi and possibly a 4G connection.

But other than that, the two trains would be interchangeable.

Glasgow To Edinburgh Services

There is also the fact that Abellio seem to be very expansive with the plans for their franchises in the UK.

As some of the North Berwick services start at Glasgow Central station, could it be that Scotrail are planning to use North Berwick as the terminal for a two tph Glasgow Central to Edinburgh via Motherwell service, in addition to all the other services going to Glasgow Queen Street station.

Effectively, by using North Berwick, they gain a much needed extra platform at Edinburgh.

ScotRail might have also decided that all Glasgow to Edinburgh services should be equipped with wi-fi and run by the new Hitachi trains.

Expansion Of Suburban Services East Of Edinburgh

Passenger numbers are rising at North Berwick station and last year there were over half a million passengers.

The single platform handling six-car Class 380 trains can probably handle several hundred passengers an hour.

But look at this Google Map of the station.

Is there enough car parking for this number of passengers?

When it is considered that with modern signalling, it might even be possible to inrease the frquency to North Berwick to three or even four tph, the platform would cope, but routes to the station probsbly wouldn’t.

There have been proposals to reopen a station at East Linton, a few miles away on the East Coast Main Line. In the Wikipedia entry for the station, this is said under The Future.

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

As now the extra trains are being delivered, a station at East Linton must be increasingly possible.

Would a rebuilt Reston station be used as a terminus?

This Google Map shows the village of Reston with the A1 and the East Coast Main Line.

Could Reston station be rebuilt as a Park-and-Ride station with perhaps a bay platform for suburban services from Edinburgh?


  • Space doesn’t seem to be a problem.
  • Drivers from the South and West might be tempted to abandon their cars and use the train.
  • Reston could be a terminus for Glasgow to Edinburgh services.

Scotrail certainly have possibilities to develop an electric service between Edinburgh and Glasgow, that is a lot more than just a simple link between the two major cities.


The electrified Edinburgh to Glasgow service could develop into a fast and frequent Crossrail For Scotland.

September 12, 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

Edinburgh Airport Flying High Because Of Brexit

The Sunday Times also reports that Edinburgh Airport is doing well because Brexit has helped to drive a surge in passengers.

  • Passenger numbers are up 11%.
  • Routes are up by 7%.
  • Turnover gre 13%

Profits did slump by 34%, after a one-off boost in 2015.


June 4, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , | 2 Comments