Will the Borders railway ever be built, or as everybody seemed to be calling it the Waverley line, I presume a reference to the Waverley novels by Walter Scott. Whose home Abbotsford, near Melrose, is a river crossing and a bus ride away from the last station on the proposed first phase of the Borders line. It now looks like work will not be started on the Waverley line until 2011, because, strangely enough, the new minority SNP government stuck to the sensible proposals of the previous administration and checked out the business case in detail. As an aside, it appears the business case is now even better than it was 2002. However, surprise, surprise, shower of edjits, what did you expect; the price has gone up from 130 million to between 230 million and 295 million. In there is, the not surprising, shortfall of some 50 million between the partnership wedge and what is expected to be raised on the money markets. The commercial input is supposedly a not-for-profit development (NPD) which according to the Transport Minister is a cheaper option, due to less interest having to be paid on NPD’s than the notorious recent options for commercial funding, which was used for the Edinburgh Royal infirmary new build and other large engineeringbuilding projects. I wonder if it was used for our new parliament.
Everyone in the chamber seemed to be in agreement with the idea of a railway; the only point of issue was the time it was taking to get the project off the ground. And of course, the Tory worries about the increasing costs, a good section of which appear to be due to the fact that some smarty-pants actually thought to take inflation into account. (The original cost being based on 2002 figures). Whatever next, they’ll be costing the price of diesel as opposed to coal for fueling the train engine soon.
· Smaller carbon footprint as people move from cars to trains.
· Faster travel between Galashiels and Edinburgh.
· Spreading, Edinburgh‘s success southward into the Borders.
· Ending the perceived isolation of the Borders. (Much the same as above).
· The driver of the house building in the Borders.
· Tourism for the Borders.
· Cutting down on accidents on the A7 and A 68.
· And a brand new railway station for Stow. (Must declare an interest here, was once my own village).
· Faster travel between Galashiels and Edinburgh, if the trains run.
· Not sure it will spread down to the Borders. Perhaps all that will happen is, the cream of the qualified workforce in the Borders will be able to travel to Edinburgh for work.
· Maybe people live in the Borders, because they like the isolation in which case everyone will move to Hawick and Langholm.
· As the commuter belt moves further south and east that house prices will move further north, up and up in fact, and local people won’t be able to afford to buy.
· Cutting down on accidents, if there are less cars on the road if I know border boys they’ll drive faster because there’s more room.
· I liked the old one.
You may have noticed that for every plus the could well be a minus, I hope their business case stands the test of time; I would hate to see the border country emptied between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., five days a week.
Mind you, Melrose sevens by train will bring back a few memories for those in their 60s. I believe they were great days and it will be a cheaper than the 40 quid taxi fare now.