Underfoot problems at the Heriot railway underpass

Councillor Sandy Aitchison of Stow at the new underpass that runs under the A7 at Heriot and is prone to flooding at this stage in the construction.
Councillor Sandy Aitchison of Stow at the new underpass that runs under the A7 at Heriot and is prone to flooding at this stage in the construction.
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Heriot councillor Sandy Aitchison believes at some point the village will get the railway halt it deserves following months of disruption.

Mr Aitchison, who represents Galashiels & District ward on Scottish Borders Council, was speaking following complaints about flooding affecting the new underpass being built in Heriot.

It’s part of the new railway infrastructure being installed ahead of the restored line being reopened in September next year and allows pedestrians to access the A7 and bus stops.

Mr Aitchison told The Southern it had been hoped work on the underpass would have been completed by now.

“It basically boils down to the timing of work to move all the services, such as BT cabling, but this has been more problematic than expected,” he explained.

“The problems this has caused has made it quite a contentious issue in Heriot. On a couple of occasions the underpass has flooded due to the very high water table in this area.

“The underpass was the only feasible way of allowing pedestrian access to the A7 and attendant bus stops – there was no room to construct a bridge during the original planning phase.

“But holes in the walls of the underpass have allowed it to fill with water. When completed, a super-efficient pump will keep it dry as necessary, but it seems the temporary pump installed at the moment is unsatisfactory, with the result the underpass has flooded two or three times.

“The problem has also been exacerbated by the fact the special anti-slip surface has not yet been applied allowing a recent build up of ice and frost to cause difficulties.”

And Mr Aitchison says the problems with the underpass coupled to other issues for local residents should have qualified the village for at least a halt to allow the new trains to stop.

“Considering the level of disruption caused to the village and its residents, I would have thought that only fair. But while Heriot is not getting a station at this stage, as things develop in the future, who knows?”

A spokesman for Network Rail said: “We are aware of the latest report of flooding at the underpass. During the Christmas shut down, we have a team on duty that will inspect the structure twice a day to keep it open. We also have a pump operating in an effort to keep it clear of water.

“Until the structure is completed, the site is likely to continue to be affected to some extent by heavy rainfall, however, we are doing what we can to maintain this access during the Christmas break and will be seeking an improved permanent solution early in the New Year. The underpass was fully clear of water yesterday.”