Next stop must be Hawick, says rail campaign group

SUPPORTERS of the Campaign for Borders Rail (CBR) group have pledged that their ambition to bring trains to Hawick will not be derailed.

Around 75 people who attended the group’s annual general meeting in Tower Mill on Wednesday night voted in favour of a motion that states: “This house believes that the Borders Railway should be reinstated to Hawick and Carlisle.” And they had the full backing of long-time pro-rail campaigner and Teri Madge Elliot, almost 45 years after she presented an anti-closure petition to Downing Street before the line was axed.

Mrs Elliot, who attended the meeting and supported the vote, told the Hawick News: “I never had any doubt that the trains would return one day, but they have got to bring them to Hawick, Hawick is a big town. If the people of Hawick want the railway, they have to fight for it.”

Commitment to the campaign was evident throughout the meeting, as members and supporters heard from several speakers, including CBR’s Tom Curry and Bruce Simpson of the Borders Chamber of Commerce.

And after voting in favour of pushing for a continuation of the railway, CBR chairman Simon Walton said that the meeting had reaffirmed the group’s objective. “We have asked the people of Hawick for their mandate, and they have responded most positively”, he stated. “The campaign has always worked for the restoration of the entire Waverley Route, and we believe that an eventual aim for a through route offers the best return for communities on the line.”

He added: “While restoration to Hawick is important for the town, reopening the line to Carlisle unlocks the strategic potential of the former Waverley Route. Hawick was uniquely disadvantaged by its closure in the late sixties, and most commentators agree that bringing the railway back will be a catalyst for regeneration, far beyond the simple arithmetic of fare-paying passengers.”

Mrs Elliot also said that Teries should support the railway to Tweedbank, adding: “I’ve learnt over the years that enthusiasm is infectious.”

Mr Walton concluded: “It’s now up to the campaign to take this mandate forward and apply our experience towards achieving another long-standing ambition.”