TV presenter Rob Bell appointed as Campaign for Borders Rail’s first patron

Television presenter Rob Bell has been appointed as the Campaign for Borders Rail’s first patron to help highlight its calls for the revival of the old Waverley Route linking Edinburgh and Carlisle.

Walking Britain's Lost Railways presenter Rob Bell at Whitrope Siding.
Walking Britain's Lost Railways presenter Rob Bell at Whitrope Siding.

That appointment follows Bell’s visit to the Borders in May last year to film an episode of Walking Britain’s Lost Railways about the 98-mile line broadcast by Channel 5 in April and watched by almost two million viewers.

“I was really taken by the passion and enthusiasm of the people,” said the 41-year-old.

“The culture and heritage of the region is unique, and the people have real pride in their communities. There’s a sense of identity coupled with a healthy rivalry between communities.

Walking Britain's Lost Railways presenter Rob Bell with Campaign for Borders Rail chairman Simon Walton at Tweedbank station.

“The region deserves every opportunity to bring that pride of place to as many people as possible, and the Campaign for Borders Rail is a project that can make that happen.

“It seems to me that the Borders craves this missing part of its heritage – the railway that connected all those communities together and contributed to unifying the Borders more than anything else for over a century.

“I’m honoured to be a patron of the Campaign for Borders Rail and look forward to playing my part in achieving that goal of reconnection.”

Campaign chairman Simon Walton said: “The campaign has worked hard to take the message of the Borders Railway and the Borders to a national audience and prove that a new Waverley Route would be an asset to the community, the region and the nation.

“Having Rob Bell on board as our patron takes that up a level and gives the campaign an ambassador who will help introduce a whole new audience to the ambitions we share to make the Borders everything it can be by building a new railway and making it a better place for generations to come.”

Rob was introduced to the campaign, founded in 1999, by Fintan McGuire, head of popular factual entertainment at Rumpus Media, the production company that makes Walking Britain’s Lost Railways, and he said: “I knew Simon and Rob had got along very well on the shoot for the show, and Rob and the crew had said how much they enjoyed the visit.

“This episode as much as any epitomised all that excites us about the series. It is a great engineering feat, built though some outstanding landscapes, connecting communities and was a pleasure to film.”

The campaign is currently awaiting the findings, due next year, of studies into the feasibility of extending the 30-mile Borders Railway from Tweedbank into Cumbria to recreate the former Waverley Route closed in 1969.

Costing £5m apiece, they’re being commissioned by the Scottish and UK governments as part of their joint Borderlands growth deal.