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The Borders Railway by Colin MacDonald, Network Rail: Meeting of 12 April 2012

The Borders Railway advance works sign at Galashiels Station.d

The Borders Railway advance works sign at Galashiels Station.

© John Yellowlees, 2012

Colin MacDonald from Network Rail quickly set the scene from the building of Glenesk Viaduct in 1831 through Beeching to the 2006 Act.

The new Borders railway aims to promote accessibility, inclusion, economic growth and modal shift and to stem population decline.

Competition for a design and build operator became no longer viable, so Network Rail started its own competition for a contractor

As a result, it has appointed BAM Nuttall to design the 49 km of new route for which the requirement is for a 55-minute journey-time, two trains an hour with passive provision for four to Gorebridge, a mainly single-track layout with three dynamic loops and seven stations of which Shawfair, Stow and the Tweedbank terminus will have two platforms.

A view of the solum at Galashiels.d

A view of the solum at Galashiels.

© John Yellowlees, 2012

The scheme provides for future grade-separation at the Sheriffhall roundabout, so the A720 must cross the railway on its new alignment through Shawfair.

A new site is required for Eskbank Station so as to provide car-parking and DDA compliance. Network Rail are trying to avoid having to put two tracks on the historic Glenesk Viaduct, and will have to reinstate the alignment by means of a 2-span structure at the Hardengreen roundabout.

It will be single track on the Newbattle Viaduct where there is surprisingly little work to do. There will be passive provision for electrification, so clearances must be improved.

At Gorebridge houses on the solum have been compulsorily purchased for demolition. Thereafter the main problem is collapsing structures on the rural stretch where farmers had flooded the trackbed. Road and rail will be transposed at Falahill, then the route reaches the Gala valley where bridges become larger as one goes further downstream : of the 121 bridges on the route, 37 will have new structures. Bowshanks Tunnel leads straight off a bridge, and is prone to flooding but the track can't be lowered. The Galashiels station-site is tight due to the proximity of Asda, so car-parking will be provided at Tweedbank.

Another view of the solum at Galashiels.d

Another view of the solum at Galashiels.

© John Yellowlees, 2012

Services will be worked by Classes 158 and 170 units in multiples of up to six carriages. There will be 15 sections of work, with more cut than fill, so the project has to manage waste extraction carefully. Ecology issues include badgers, otters and water management.

The cost is expected to be within the £235M-295M range, and Scottish ministers want completion in December 2014.

The Portobello-Newcraighall stretch is to be addressed by the Edinburgh Glasgow Improvement Programme for access to the proposed electric-train depot at Millerhill. The predominantly single-track nature of the route is for reasons of economy, and no freight is presently envisaged.

A longer platform for tourist trains is being considered for Tweedbank. As a new-build railway, the line should be more robust than the existing network.

The CILT Scottish Region thanks Bob McLeod of ICE Scotland for inviting us to this event.

Report and photographs by John Yellowlees.


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