April 20, 2016
The decision to build the longest new passenger railway line for over 100 years into the Scottish Borders will have been based on endless impact assessments and predictions about the economic benefits. And it seems that most of these are being fulfilled – passenger numbers are high, visitor numbers have increased, car use has fallen and even property prices have jumped. But some of the effects of the new railway have been a complete surprise. Communities all along the line are taking the welfare and upkeep their stations to heart.
Midlothian groups are flocking to “adopt” local stations to make railway platforms and surroundings more welcoming and people-friendly.
“Travellers will soon see the fruit of plans to improve the appearance of Eskbank, Gorebridge, Newtongrange and Shawfair stations, together with Galashiels and Stow,” said Carol Byers, chairman of the Borders Railway Community Partnership (BRCP), which is backing the grass-roots initiative along with operator Abellio ScotRail.
Planters and other floral displays are foremost in the ambitions of groups such as the Rotary Club of Dalkeith, which has pledged active interest in Midlothian’s busiest station, Eskbank.
A trio of community bodies – Gorebridge Cares, Community Council and Gorebridge Development Trust – are promoting use of the former stationmaster’s house at Gorebridge.
Newtongrange, linked to the attraction by a wheelchair-friendly walkway, will be looked after by the National Mining Museum.
Tending of Shawfair is planned by Esk Valley Rotary Club.
“Groups are modelling their involvement on successful practice elsewhere in the UK where rail usage is booming and a more positive feeling of ownership is being enjoyed by customers towards their local railhead,” said Ms Byers.
“Overall cleanliness and appearance of infrastructure and landscaped areas will remain the responsibility of ground maintenance staff who will work closely with adopters towards the same objective – a station the community can be proud of.”
ScotRail’s external affairs manager, John Yellowlees, added: “Our adopt a station policy is about putting stations at the heart of their communities, and we are delighted that all along the new Borders Railway community groups are showing such interest in taking its stations to their hearts.”
The adopter teams modelled on others already formed at Newcraighall and Brunstane were named following recent talks at each of the stations on the Borders Railway with representatives of Scotrail and the Borders Railway Community Partnership. Community groups adopt new Midlothian stations.