Making Borders appear foolish

I really have no connection with the Borders, except possibly that I grew up in a mill town in the middle of the hills and approximately the same population as some Borders towns.

The mills are long gone, but that town managed to hang on to its railway and railway station.

Forty-five years after the Beeching closures it is quite unimaginable that the town could survive as well as it has without its station. The trains are busy and frequent.

Therefore, I simply cannot understand the mentality that seeks to deprive the Borders of its chance to get its railway back. Unless one was short-sighted enough to build a house on the trackbed, then why try to disadvantage the rest of the community?

I do see that the protesters will say just about anything. There is not enough space to comment on these assertions, except for one example.

At least twice it has been said that Musselburgh has got its station back and it has not made any difference. Two years ago I was at a seminar at Queen Margaret University which moved from Edinburgh to Musselburgh next to the station. They said the new station was essential to their choice of site. If you check their website the railway station is the subject of the very second sentence of the homepage.

I just could not rely on anything these protesters say. The craziest are those who oppose the railway because it is not expensive enough, because it is not double track, and will not carry freight and expresses to London.

The rest of Britain is trying to get its trains back or its services improved.

This anti-rail campaign just makes the Borders look foolish and disunited – a good excuse for governments to ignore the Borders for another 40 years and put their investment elsewhere where it will be appreciated.

Ralph Barker

Carlisle Road


The chief point of John Eoin Douglas’s letter (Southern, September 22) seems to be that, in his opinion, money set aside for the Waverley Line should have gone to expand the Edinburgh tram network (already, might I remind him, mired in deep controversy, debt, mismanagement and, in the view of a very great many Edinburgh citizens, totally unnecessary in the first place). Or is he anti-Lib Dem?

Aside from the dubious benefits of either project, I am surprised that your paper gave space to a contributor whose hostility to the Borders is matched only by his total and utter ignorance of the area, its amenities, its culture and its heritage.

“Rural idyll” is it? In fact, the Borders has taken some hard knocks over the years on its key industries, through no fault of its own. Its farming livelihood is precarious and always open to threat from meddling and interference by the EU. Its welfare and existence are routinely ignored by the Central Belt (a point Mr Douglas has proved in his letter).

His use of the phrase “gainful employment” to suggest that Borderers are malingerers who do not want to find work is disgraceful – and this from a man whose surname is Douglas.

M. D. Taylor

Ettrick Terrace


Further to my letter which you published last week about giving Council Tax payers in the Borders a chance to vote on whether they wanted a railway from Edinburgh to Tweedbank, Scottish Borders Council should agree that, instead of using outdated statistics as a “For” vote, Council Tax payers should be given the opportunity to vote “Yes” or “No” to the Borders railway on the basis of present financial implications and restrictions.

Any referendum should include the opportunity to say whether the allocated funds for the railway project should be spent on supporting and improving the existing infrastructure.

The council would then have the mandate of the people of the Borders to cancel, or to proceed.

Hamish I. Carruthers

Carruthers Associates