Villager says railway works are off track

Borders Railway works at Heriot.
Borders Railway works at Heriot.

Ongoing rail works at Heriot which have resulted in road closures have led to calls for Network Rail and its contractors to make changes.

In addition to the rail track, the A7 is being rerouted and a new village entrance constructed.

Those engineering works mean some local access – including the school bus – has been closed or restricted.

The former station house, which villagers wanted retained for community use, has also been demolished.

Villager Peter Caunt says there’s chaos and that it must be possible to allow access for the school bus and farmers.

He added: “They [Network Rail] cynically demolished the station house that we wanted for an internet cafe. It was our heritage and a memory of when railways were great.”

The road changes include a pedestrian underpass to the village from the new A7. Mr Caunt says that needs a car park and a turning area for the school bus.

Network Rail says representatives of the Borders Railway have met regularly with local residents to give them updates and address any concerns.

A Network Rail spokesman said it wasn’t their policy to demolish properties if there was a feasible alternative.

And he added: “The project has not received any reports of disruption to the school bus service since the start of the new school term.”

Local councillor Sandy Aitchison told us: “It has to be remembered that Heriot will not benefit from a station, so they deserve a lot of consideration for their forbearance.

“The X95 bus will not go into the village along the new entrance. There will be a car park near the pedestrian underpass for passengers to join buses on the A7.

“The school bus will enter Heriot by the new route and will, I presume, turn at Shoestanes Road.”

Network Rail said bus services were a matter for the local authority and the bus operators, and the car park and turning area were council matters.

Mr Caunt told us: “A lot of money is being spent here and not in a way we want. Help for Heriot would cost peanuts, but the agenda is being set elsewhere.”