Last year the Borders railway reopened and last Sunday I took my first trip on it. Its always nice when a Beeching cut is undone. The line which originally connected to Carlisle was closed in 1969. Police had to guard the last train such was the anger and the young MP at the time, one David Steel had to calm things down. Last year 30 miles of this route was reopened. I’m glad to say its been a huge success with passenger numbers are much higher than envisaged. Longer trains have had to be put in service after complaints of overcrowding. I took a trip on it last Sunday and whilst the train was not full it certainly was busy.
The line winds through some lovely country and connects with the national cycle route in at least one place. It serves only one major town (Galashiels) although the stations near Edinburgh are in commuter range. Its one of the few times I have been on the train when we have had to wait since we were 10 minutes early.
Mistakes have been made in the Borders railway reopening though. It seems crazy not to have extended it a couple of miles further to Melrose, since by local standards its a major conurbation. The main criticism made is that there is insufficient double track and more importantly that there is a problem in widening it to double track. The problem is most acute at a number of new bridges where the line is single track but there is no space to put in a second track. Neither is it electrified. These short sighted cost savings will make it more difficult to reopen it as far as Carlisle, which would bring a whole heap of benefits.