A bid for the return of the Tweed Valley railway line is at an early stage

A campaign for a multi-billion restoration of the Tweed Valley railway line is at an 'embryonic' stage, a council committee has been informed.

By Paul Kelly
Sunday, 30th January 2022, 10:14 am
Rail bid.
Rail bid.

A campaign for a multi-billion restoration of the Tweed Valley railway line is at an 'embryonic' stage, a council committee has been informed.

The old railway line between Peebles and Innerleithen was built around 1864.

A route to Galashiels became operational a couple of years later and Innerleithen station opened as an industrial and passenger hub.

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But by the 1960s the line was deemed no longer viable and the station closed on February 5, 1962.

A Tweed Valley Railway Committee has been formed to carry out a community engagement process to establish the level of interest in the rail line's return.

And at a meeting of Cheviot Area Partnership last night, Wednesday, January 26, members endorsed funding of £2,500 towards that process.

Brian Burton, representing Sprouston Community Council, did express reservations about the funding allocation.

He said: "I accept that it was a majority decision but I didn't think that for a multi-billion pound project that they'd done enough homework.

"Is it feasible? How much of the track has been built over? I know there are roads over some of it. I didn't think it had gone far enough with its homework for a multi-billion pound project. But the decision has been taken and I back them all the way."

Angus Russell, secretary of the Tweed Valley Railway Committee, said the campaign was at a very early stage and that its future success was interlinked with the proposed extension of the Borders railway to Hawick and on to Carlisle.

He said: "The reason we are not advanced is because we are not advanced. The whole point of the campaign is to generate and engage the level of interest in doing this in the first place.

"We are a long, long way behind Borders Rail, they are just about, touch wood, to start their feasibility study on the extension south from Tweedbank to Hawick and on to Carlisle.

"That is really crucial for us as well because the likely junction would be somewhere near St Boswells and if that extension doesn't happen then that is, of course, something of a dampener on the Tweed Valley line.

"The project is looking at at least a decade, probably more, but there are all sorts of things going on at the moment, including the strategic transport projects review number two that is setting out a 20-year vision on what transport ought to look like throughout the whole of Scotland.

"If we don't get moving now, and we're very grateful for the recommendation, then the risk is nothing could even happen in the next two decades. We really want to get motoring.

"The feasibility study will consider the route. The starting point may be to open up the old Tweed Valley line, but that is by no means the definitive route that the line would take - that would all be down to the feasibility study. That is the reason why this is so embryonic."