RESULTS of a poll carried out by the Borders Party which are claimed to prove that a majority of Borderers think the proposed new rail line for the region is a waste of money, have been dismissed as irrelevant.
The poll was conducted at three agricultural shows in the Borders over the summer, and the question asked was: “Will the proposed Borders railway be good value for money?”
According to the Borders Party, which is opposed to the rail project in its current form, 87 per cent of the public answered ‘no’, with only 13 per cent saying ‘yes’.
The poll was conducted in the form of a secret ballot at the Borders Party stand at recent agricultural shows at Kelso, Duns and Peebles, but with only 183 members of the public taking part.
There was some variation in the responses from show to show. At Kelso 86 per cent of people asked opposed the railway, at Duns 94 per cent and at Peebles 83 per cent.
Borders Party leader Nicholas Watson believes most Borderers are highly sceptical of this project.
He said: “The cost of £300million and rising is too high a price for a railway that lacks economic and environmental justification. Scarce public funds should be directed at more worthwhile projects. Upgrading the A7 and improved broadband would be of far greater benefit to the Borders.”
Councillor Watson says he was also disappointed to find out that the trains running on the new Borders rail line would not be equipped to provide wi-fi services for passengers wishing to use computers.
“One of the reasons commuters like trains is because they can get work done during the journey. I asked last week if wi-fi was planned for the Borders railway – No.
“Sad that a new railway should be diesel - when there are plans to bring electrification to the rest of the network – and that it is not being built to carry freight, and that passengers won’t benefit from wi-fi.”
But Scottish Borders Council leader, David Parker, says he is not surprised that the anti-railway Borders Party has conducted a poll on the railway that, “surprise surprise,” comes out against the project.
“The sample is very small and obviously it has taken place in locations where the railway’s full benefit will not necessarily always be felt,” added Councillor Parker.
“Many thousands of Borderers signed the parliamentary petition urging the reinstatement of the project and this poll is just a poor attempt by the Borders Party to continue their irrelevant campaign against the project.”
Councillor Parker’s comments were echoed by Bill Jamieson from the Campaign for Borders Rail group, who told us: “183 people in Kelso, Duns and Peebles – do I really need to comment!
“If the poll had been conducted in Galashiels it might have been a cause for concern, but this one is just an irrelevance. I might add that as the poll took place at the Borders Party stand, it’s unlikely to have been demographically representative – hardly up to MORI standards I would think.”