Photo montage: Cameron Pate, Braw Lad and Abbie Frankland, Braw Lass, of the Galashiels Common Ridings, pose for a photograph at Tweedbank Station to promote Abellio ScotRail's new rail service (photo, left, Ellie King), banners promoting the Borders Railway hung from the roof of Edinburgh Waverley station (photo, centre, Ellie King), real-time display showing trains now running (photo, right, BBC web-site, Sunday 6th September 2015). For more photos, and commentary, click HERE.
RAILFUTURE SCOTLAND'S RAIL EXPANSION PLANS LAUNCHED
In mid-November 2014 Railfuture Scotland published its proposals to expand Scotland's rail network - read our press release.
The Scottish media publicised Railfuture Scotland's proposals - see below.
- Scotsman article: http://www.scotsman.com/news/transport/expansions-for-scotland-s-rail-network-proposed-1-3608562
- CILT article: http://ciltuk.org.uk/News/LatestNews/tabid/235/ctl/NewsItem/mid/589/Id/4635/Default.aspx
These proposals include a "top 50 list of stations to be opened or re-opened from Beattock to Culloden, with a further 45 to follow. This is quite realistic considering that about 70 stations have been added to the Scottish network over the past 30 years. New passenger and freight lines are also proposed.
However, it's not all about new infrastructure. Railfuture Scotland is calling for faster and more frequent trains on existing routes, including more electrification, which should be speeded up.
THE BORDERS RAILWAY HAS REOPENED AFTER 46 YEARS
Patronage has far exceeded expectations
Passenger services on the re-built Borders Railway from Edinburgh to Tweedbank commenced on Sunday 6 September 2015, more than 46 years after the last trains ran on 6 January 1969, as described in details (with photos) HERE (also see the BBC report). The line, which is the longest domestic rail line in Britain constructed in more than a century, cost £295 million (2012 prices) for construction plus around £60 million for legal and land costs. A speeded-up video of the journey from the rear cab of the train can be watched on BBC web-site.
Railfuture Scotland has produced a leaflet about the Borders Railway reopening (published as a pull-out in Railwatch magazine issue 145) and also held a public event in the new Transport Interchange at Galashiels a few weeks after the reopening. In the first month since reopening there were 125,000 passengers, which is double the predicted monthly average, with some trains being overcrowded. At Galashiels station more people boarded a single train than predicted for the entire day.
The media has reported that Scottish Borders Council and Scotrail are considering improvements to the 'inadequate' facilities at Tweedbank station, which is the terminus, to cope with a much higher than expected number of passengers.
A book entitled "WAVERLEY ROUTE: The life, death and rebirth of the Borders Railway" by David Spaven can be bought at a discount from the Railfuture Online Shop. He will be one of the speakers at Railfuture's national conference in Newtongrange on 18th June 2016.
SCOTLAND'S NEW TRAIN OPERATORS SINCE APRIL 2015
On 1st April 2015 Scotland got two new train operators. Abellio took over the ScotRail franchise from First Group and a new Caledonian Sleeper franchise (run by Serco) commenced, operating the 'sleeper' services that were previously run as part of the ScotRail operation.
Railfuture Scotland issued a press release on 9th October 2014, the day after Abellio was announced as the winner of the new ScotRail franchise after a bidding competition that lasted many months.
Titled "Rail campaigners have given a cautious welcome to news that Abellio has won the Scotrail franchise", the press release stated:
Allison Cosgrove, Chair of Railfuture Scotland said: "Railfuture Scotland has enjoyed a good relationship with First during the current franchise, and First management have always been approachable and helpful. We appreciated the re-instatement of the Edinburgh-Dunbar local service which they instigated in 2010. However, having talked with all the bidders, Abellio were the most receptive to our ideas on new stations, and were the only bidder to ask us back for an in depth study of our 50 Stations proposals. We await with interest to see what is included in the optional additions to the franchise, and hope that they have adopted some of our suggestions. In recent years First introduced a small funding scheme for local groups with railway connections, and we hope that Abellio will continue to engage with local communities. We look forward to working with them."
Since then the good news is that Abellio has signed a contract with Hitachi for 46 three-car and 24 four-car AT200 EMUs to operate along the Edinburgh-Glasgow and Stirling-Alloa-Dunblane lines. They are due to go into service in 2017. There will also be a full refurbishment of the existing train fleet and passengers will be able to use a new Scottish nationwide smart-card as an alternative to paper tickets.
The Caledonian sleeper service will also see €200m investment for 75 new coaches comprising four trains of 16 coaches (plus 11 spare coaches) operating the Highland and Lowland services.
ALMOND CHORD CAMPAIGN / EGIP ELECTRIFICATION
Railfuture Scotland sympathised with passengers whose journeys were disrupted for several weeks by the closure of the railway line between Linlithgow and Edinburgh Park. The closure, which had been known about for several years, was necessary to fit paved track (and renew drainage) in Winchburgh tunnel to create more clearance to carry overhead wires for the electrification of the line (something that Railfuture Scotland had campaigned for over many years). The work was soon completed and the line reopened in July.
The significant, and unnecessary, disruption resulted in many people taking to the roads instead leading to more congestion. It could have been avoided if, as Railfuture suggested, the new Almond Chord (which is going ahead) was built in advance of the closure as had been originally proposed. However, in a deliberate decision by the Scottish Government it was postponed in 2012. Click here to see our flier about it.
The electrification project, which is part of the £742m Edinburgh-Glasgow Improvement Programme (EGIP), will electrify 150km of track is progressing. The first wires were installed in October 2015 at which time 320 of the planned 2,366 stanchions had been erected.
EDINBURGH TRAM EXTENSION TO NEWHAVEN LIKELY
City of Edinburgh councillors have been looking at options to extend the Edinburgh tram network to Newhaven, Ocean Terminal or the foot of Leith Walk. All of these were on route '1a', which gained planning approved but cancelled when the scheme was cut back to York Place to save money. A council report has recommended extending the current line by 5km to Newhaven (the original phase '1a' limit) at a cost of £144.7m, and on 19th November 2015 Edinburgh City councillors voted to take the project to the next step - see BBC News Report (19/11/2015).
The council has since authorised £3.25m to develop the project and a further £1.75m has also been set aside to secure land along line '1b'.
In the first year of tram operation, which commenced on 31st May 2014 (see BBC report), passenger number were 10% higher than forecast with three million people using them. During the first year of operation, as is expected with most businesses, the trams made a loss. According to the BBC the total loss was almost £450,000, which is about 15 pence per journey, and the trams will start making a profit in the third year. The better-than-forecast patronage has continued: more than five million passengers used Edinburgh's tram network in 2015 alone, reaching nearly seven million in the first 19 months.
Railfuture is the UK's leading independent organisation campaigning for better rail services for passengers and freight. Railfuture is a voluntary group representing rail users, with 20,000 affiliated and individual members. It is not affiliated to or funded by train companies, political parties or trade unions, and uses one-member one-vote democracy.
Railfuture campaigns for cheap and convenient rail services for everyone; better links for buses, bikes and pedestrians; policies to get more heavy lorries on to rail; new lines, stations and freight terminals - a better rail service and a bigger rail system for both passengers and freight. Our volunteer members in branches and around 300 local rail user groups campaign to get stations and lines reopened, and services and facilities improved, for the benefit of the community, economy and environment.
Over the past 50 years we have played a major part in getting over 370 new and reopened stations and over 500 miles of route to join the network. Apply to join our campaign today - click Join Now using your credit/debit card via PayPal.
Railfuture Scotland Campaigns, News, Events and Contacts
Campaigns - Click here for a list of the main Railfuture Scotland campaigns.
Campaign resources - Click here for a list Railfuture Scotland campaign resources.
Newsletter - Click here to read back issues of 'Branch Notes' the Railfuture Scotland newsletter.
Events - Click here for details of conferences and other events organised by Railfuture Scotland.
Contacts - Click here for Railfuture Scotland contacts.
Links - Click here for links to external Scottish web-sites (including other campaign groups).
Twitter - Click @RailfutureScot for the Railfuture Scotland twitter account.
Working with Railfuture
Railfuture engages with politicians from all political parties at Westminster and the devolved governments in Scotland and Wales. At the national AGM Railfuture members appoint Honorary Vice Presidents. These include rail professionals, specialist journalists and politicians amongst others. Railfuture has Vice Presidents from all major political parties. In Scotland one such person is Stewart Stevenson MSP. In early 2015 the Railfuture Scotland committee took him out for a meal and he then attended the committee meeting afterwards.
The photo above (click it for a higher resolution image) shows (left to right) Allison Cosgrove, chair, Stewart Stevenson, Ron McLean, Lawrence Marshall, Jane Ann Liston, secretary, Anthony Lennon, Barrie Forrest, Roddy McDougall and Ken Sutherland. Stewart has extensive knowledge of the rail network and as well as being very informative and helpful to Railfuture.
As well as organising the annual national conference for rail users and user groups, Railfuture works at local and national level with train operators and other stakeholders to secure a better railway. Railfuture makes awards to campaigners from its Fighting Fund to bring about improvements. Awards have been given, for example, for publicity initiatives and feasibility studies.
Join Us - Become a Member
If you would like to join our campaign for a rail future please go to the
Join Us page to apply for membership.
It is just £18 (concessions available) which provides four all-colour magazines a year plus more. If you have any questions or
comments about the work of Railfuture Scotland you can contact us at
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