19 June 2008

The Waivering Waverley Line?

Does anyone really know what's happening with the Waverley line? Time just seems to drift along, all we hear are rumours about rising costs coupled with a quirky financial plan to get private investment into something that’s unlikely to ever give investors a return. How does this all make sense? Any hope of seeing this line built and operating by 2013 or 2014, even if someone is foolish enough to invest in the project, must be out of the question. In the meantime all that is happening is mounting expenditure, to which I assume Scottish Borders Council is contributing. This vanity project needs to be stopped and sensible thinking about the transport needs that are required across the Borders should begin. What sort of sophisticated bus network could have been operating by now with the many millions that have been spent on the folly of ‘a tram to Gala’?


Richard Havers said...

As I thought! No one knows anything more than I do.....

Raymond said...

John Lamont MSP is running a survey into Borderers' views on the railway. It will be very interesting to find out what the results are.

The fact that Mr Lamont is running the survey is itself interesting. If the railway is 'done and dusted' then why bother asking folk about it? I think the Borders Party must be encouraged by his survey and perhaps he is working towards raising a stink at Holyrood about this highly questionable use of public funds for a project of dubious benefits to a very limited goegraphical area and a population which doesn't seem to want it.

But instead of going over the reasons for panning the tram-line when I responded to Mr Lamont's survey, I chose to highlight alternatives. John asked voters whether the money would be better spent improving the roads.

We should improve the roads and, in my personal opinion, we should try to develop an excellent bus and coach service between Borders communities and also in and out of the region.

I'm really not talking about the old cliche of 'a better bus service'. My vision is for a clean, efficient coach and bus service so good that it tempts people out of their cars.

Different vehicles would be used on different routes, so to serve rural villages you would see comforatable mini-buses or people carriers while the major routes would have 'luxury' coaches.

Looking ahead, we can expect fuel prices to go on rising. Climate change and targets for reduction of CO2 emissions will become more important factors in transport decision making. Prof Harvie is correct in that respect. But where I disagree with the professor and others advocating the Tweedbank tram is that a train service does not hold all the 'environmental' aces.

I learned only recently that coaches have lower CO2 emissions per passenger-mile than trains. The figures for a coach are 12g/km and for a train 28g/km. The asumption is that both vehicles carry the full complement of passengers.

Trains lose out because of the work that has to be done to accelerate and push along such a heavy vehicle. This surprised me, as we tend to think that trains must be 'greener' than road transport.

But it gets better for coaches. The roads they run on are already here. Alright, they will benefit from targetted improvements, but to run a train to Tweedbank you will have to build a new railway almost from scratch. Thousands of tons of steel, thousands of tons of concrete, all of which have to manufactured at a high energy cost and then transported to site. Millions of tons of earth moving, major civil engineering projects, etc.

When, or if, the new line opens it will already have a huge CO2 footprint to repay!

But it gets better still for coaches. Flexibility. As patterns of travel change, you add or remove coach services. You don't build a new railway line at the drop of hat!

To answer your question, I don't know the future of the Waverley Line.

I hope that, if we make enough fuss and convince the decision-makers of the vaildity of our arguments then they will stop wasting further money. The sooner the better.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Delivery Timetable Announced: August 2008

Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson today (Wednesday) signalled the way forward for the Waverley Railway to the Borders with the announcement of the preliminary timetable for the delivery of the project.

The project has now been handed to the national transport agency Transport Scotland to deliver in partnership with the rail industry. Market consultation and testing is already underway and will continue over the next few months prior to the official procurement process which is due to start by the end of this year. Work is expected to start on site in 2011 with completion around the end of 2013 and is estimated to cost in the region of £235 - 295 million at point of completion.

Richard Havers said...

It will never come in on budget. Added to which under this whacky investment programme whereby private companies invest in the scheme I just don't see how it will happen.

Anonymous said...

I hope it will happen, However, I live in Midlothian and I think a better alternative might be to build a 'Borders Parkway' station at Middleton ( requires slight deviation ) if Borderers don't want the line down to Tweedbank.

It currently takes me 45 mins to get into the city centre by road so I think it makes sense as a commuter railway.