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Better ways to invest in transport links than £348m spend on Borders railway

The benefits of the Borders rail project are grossly exaggerated ("Green light for £348m rail project as new deal signed", The Herald, November 7).

Only one job per £900,000 of capital expenditure will be provided. If the money was spent building public housing, many times more jobs would be generated and over several areas where unemployment and housing needs are acute. Rail construction involves mainly heavy machinery, not manpower.

That many cannot afford to live in Edinburgh does not mean they need move to the Borders. There is plenty of land in Midlothian, within 10 miles of central Edinburgh, where house prices are no higher than in the Borders while travel times and costs are much lower.

An annual ticket to/from Galashiels would cost more than £2000 at present fare levels. Few could afford that. The line will serve only a relatively affluent minority but require heavy public subsidy because most trains will be little used. Older people can ride free on buses so few will use the train.

Most commuters would need to take a bus or a tram between the station and work and their total travel times would be over three hours daily. That is not conducive to health and good family life. It would be far quicker and easier to use a car for the whole trip and that is what most will do.

An annual total of 60,000 peak road trips is only about 120 per workday in each direction. A main road can carry about 1200 cars hourly each way so that is only 10% of capacity.

Train times between Tweedbank and Newtongrange will be about the same as for buses, which are far cheaper to run and could easily carry the number of passengers using trains.

Most of the benefits claimed could be gained at less than 30% of the cost by terminating the line at a new station (with a bus interchange) south of Newtongrange and building new homes and offices close to it.

Another possibility is to build a busway on the trackbed rather than a railway. Buses could then use this as part of their route, greatly reducing travel times. In Australia, this has been done in Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane. It would benefit may more people and at far lower cost than a railway.

John Munro,

68 Buccleuch Street, Glasgow.

Contextual targeting label: 
Automotive

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