Questions rail opponents should answer

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Jim Kirkness, in his letter against the Borders Railway in TheSouthern, September 15, quotes the 1965 figures for passenger use for Steele Road, Belses and Fountainhall Stations. Perhaps he is not aware that none of these stations is scheduled for reopening.

He mentions the show of hands at the public meeting. We do not measure public support for an issue on the basis of a show of hands at a meeting, we measure support at national and local elections.

On the business case, there is absolutely no chance this project could have got this far without a sound one. Business cases are based on figures Mr Kirkness, give us yours.

He then asks if I can provide evidence of the attractions of the Borders benefiting from the rail link. The Trimontium Trust has recently written to the Campaign for Borders Rail (CBR) and I quote from their letter. “The trustees were unanimous in there support for you”.

Tourist-related railways in England have seen an average increase in patronage of 50 per cent, in some cases 90 per cent, in the last four years. The Waverley Route Trust carried out research on the passenger charter train potential, involving the charter companies, and it is estimated that the Borders economy could benefit to the tune of £500,000 per year from that traffic.

Mr Cross works in Musselburgh which has “a recently opened railway station which they have hardly noticed”. Passenger journeys using the station are up from nearly 200,000 to nearly 400,000 in the past few years.

William Loneskie favours the renationalisation of the railways but not the extension of the network into the Borders. The two biggest and most influential organisations campaigning for renationalisation are members of CBR.

Mr Cross goes on to use the Edinburgh Tram shambles to attack the Borders Rail Project. Towns and cities across England and Europe are extending their tram and metro networks. One example does not prove a case.

CBR has consistently tried to take part in an informed debate, backed by verifiable evidence, and those opposed to the project have consistently refused to answer the following questions to enable that debate.

Do they accept that other rail route and station reopenings in Scotland and Wales have been a huge success and brought major economic, environmental and social benefits? Do they have any evidence that the Borders will not benefit in the same way?

Do they accept that passenger numbers, at these reopenings have all outstripped predictions? If not, can they provide evidence to the contrary?

The Waverley Route was built in stages. How can the Borders Party say it supports the reopening all the way to Carlisle but not the first stage to Tweedbank in 2014?

Why should the people of the Borders be denied a simple choice, of road or rail?

Why should they have to pay there taxes towards a national rail network without benefiting?

Mr Kirkness says he believes the Borders Party has “no political ties or aspirations.” Perhaps Mr Watson would like to tell us about his links with the Institute for Economic Affairs and whether he supports the closure of all rural railway lines, as some in the IEA call for?

Lorne Anton.

Chair, CBR.