Tourist train operators in Scotland have backed proposals for an upgrade of the planned rail terminus in Tweedbank.
It is believed that the move to accommodate longer trains on the new line between Edinburgh and the Borders will attract more visitors to the Scottish Borders and could earn the local economy an extra £500,000 a year.
The Campaign for Borders Rail has lodged a submission with Scottish Borders Council, which is currently consulting on a planned new location for the station, arguing that the station’s two platforms should be extended from the currently planned six-coach specification for standard ScotRail services to 10 or 11-coach length – allowing up to 500 passengers per train.
CBR Chair, Lorne Anton, said: “We will be reminding politicians that the Prequalification Document for the Borders Railway issued by Transport Scotland 2009 specifically stated that ‘[the railway] contractor will be encouraged and may be entitled to generate certain types of secondary revenue’ including passenger charter train services to, and from, the Scottish Borders’.”
CBR has secured the backing of four rail companies which operate charter trains to key Scottish destinations such as Edinburgh and the Highlands – including the operators of the magical steam train Hogwarts Express that transports Harry Potter in the blockbuster films of the same name.
Lorne explained: “In 2011 around 150 tourist charter trains were operated in Scotland – the biggest number of tours being run by the luxury land cruise train The Royal Scotsman, which is based in Edinburgh.
“The Royal Scotsman company has joined SRPS in pressing SBC on the case for an upgraded Tweedbank station, as has Liverpool-based Compass Tours and West Coast Railways, the operator of the world-famous Jacobite steam train from Fort William to Mallaig.”
SRPS Railtours, based at the Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway, has a 40-year track record of running successful diesel-hauled charter trains in Scotland and England. In its submission to Scottish Borders Council, Commercial Manager Roger Haynes says: “SRPS Railtours are not the only operator of special excursions who would hope that the new terminal station at Tweedbank will be designed to provide stabling, run-round and watering facilities for special trains. Our train can be up to 11 coaches in length and is hauled by one or two locomotives.
“I request that you take into account the potential special train market when considering the plans for Tweedbank Station. These trains can carry up to 500 passengers and therefore provide a boost to the tourist economy of the areas which are visited.”