Let there be light bid agreed for a Peebles tunnel

Eshiels tunnel, near Peebles.Eshiels tunnel, near Peebles.
Eshiels tunnel, near Peebles.
A plea to let there be light in a cycle and pedestrian tunnel under the former Peebles Railway has been answered.

For many years the 66-yard Eshiels Tunnel was pretty much unnoticed by people who drove over it on the A72 Innerleithen Road, about a mile east of Peebles town centre.

But in 2010 it was given a new lease of life as part of a cycle track.

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Since then, there have been calls for lighting to be installed in the tunnel to improve safety but a cost of £125,000 that was quoted, which included a new power supply, was deemed far too costly.

When members of Tweeddale Area Partnership met last night, Tuesday, March 29, it was recommended by Sustrans, the National Cycle Network custodians, that a chicane be installed instead.

However, members feared that such a move would create a bottleneck in the tunnel and have agreed to push ahead with solar stud lighting instead, at an estimated cost in the region of £10,000.

Councillor Shona Haslam said: “This has been going on and on and all we really want is lights in the tunnel.

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“A chicane really concerns me. I think it will be incredibly unpopular with cyclists and walkers, partly because it narrows everybody into one stream, so at the moment everybody kind of keeps to the left, going in and out of the tunnel and it’s fine and there is plenty of space. But if you put a chicane in you are actually pushing everybody together and you’re still going to have cyclists coming down the hill quite fast.

“I was talking to my son who is a mountain biker and he said ‘great, another obstacle, we can jump over it, we can go under it’ and I said ‘no, you won’t’, so I’m not entirely convinced a chicane is what’s needed.

“Personally I would rather go for the solar lights as a solution. If it’s only £8,000 to £10,000 I’d rather go for the lights.”

Councillor Heather Anderson added: “We’ve been trying to get lights in the tunnel since May 2017. A chicane will probably make things worse.”

Additionally, new ‘slow down’ and warning signs are set to be installed.