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Railwatch 084 - June 2000

Platform Special

Waverley line:

The real picture

The article in Railwatch 83 made interesting reading, but it was sad to see some popular myths had crept in.

The comments regarding the situation at Hawick were inaccurate and misleading. The Waverley route trackbed through the town is not blocked by the Teviotdale Leisure Centre. Those buildings sit at the end of what used to be a goods yard north of the river.

The trackbed swings across the end of the car park and approached the river on an embankment alignment which has been disturbed by nothing more than a layer of tarmac for the leisure centre car park.

The end of the embankment north of the river has been landscaped but is not blocked by any development. The bridge over the river has been removed but its position is still clear and the footings appear to be intact.

The line used to pass through the town centre on an embankment and bridges. The alignment has been reduced to the previous ground level and is occupied by a car park and a bus station with the only construction being a basic metal shelter.

The retaining walls for the embankment are still visible in places and an observer at the entrance to the leisure centre can see clearly through the middle of the town to the remains of the original embankment rising away to the south (for Carlisle). Beyond that there is some industrial usage of a short section of the trackbed but nothing immovable.

The accompanying photographs were taken in February and show that the line is not blocked. All that has happened is the removal of railway features, not construction of obstacles.

There are other sections of the line which present real challenges but have not even been mentioned. The description of the route through Hawick in the Railwatch article has made the project seem more expensive and complicated than it really should be.This sort of approach will not help the cause of resurrecting railways. RDS should be showing how to overcome perceived obstacles, not creating problems.

Empty spaces can be built in. This is after all what the original builders of the line had to do. The problems start only when something permanent has been built across or through the trackbed after closure. Even the land acquisition issues will be far less complicated than for the original builders.

The bulk of the line still exists in some form or other. Rebuilding this line is a "join the dots" type exercise not painting an old master from scratch.

Local authorities may lack the engineering skills to appreciate how a line can be rebuilt so assume that nobody else is capable either. Have we lost all initiative in this country?

Cedric A. Martindale, director, Iceni Enterprises, 1 Solway Park, Carlisle, Cumbria CA2 6TH

This shows the trackbed north from the leisure centre car park - intact and used as a footpath. The trackbed swings out to the right towards the river. The leisure centre is about 100 yards behind the photographer.

This shows the leisure centre from the same vantage point. Many people are fooled by what appears to be a bridge abutment on the road beyond the centre and other buildings beyond - the line did not go this way.

In the picture across the river the car (in foreground) and the lorry on the opposite bank mark the site of the bridge. The centre line of the trackbed through the town is marked approximately by the line of parked cars.

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