Thursday, March 6, 2008
Edinburgh and Memphis have much in common
This week, we will hopefully have had good news about a railway line for the Scottish Borders.
The Scottish Parliament was due to issue a statement about the project in Edinburgh yesterday (Wednesday), so by the time you guys are reading this over your morning cereal, we should know what is to happen.
The Borders did have a railway line once - it ran from the late 1800s right up until 1969. At that point, there was a major review of all the rail networks in Britain and the Borders network - called the Waverley Line after Sir Walter Scott’s ‘Waverley’ series of novels - was to be axed because it was not being used enough apparently.
And for almost the entire intervening four decades since that closure, there has been one campaign or another to try to get a rail line re-opened, connecting the Borders with Edinburgh.
After devolution in 1999, when Scotland was given its own Parliament again for the first time in over 300 years - although still subservient to the main UK Parliament at Westminster for things like foreign policy and defence - the ruling Scottish government backed a project to reinstate the Borders rail route.
But when the Scottish National Party won last May’s elections, the project was once again thrown into disarray when the government announced all major transport projects would be re-examined.
That prompted much wailing and gnashing of teeth. But yesterday, the signs were looking good that the new-ish nationalist government would still back a rail line for this part of the world.
It will make a big difference here, because while it will only be a single track running to and from Edinburgh to the Borders, it still connects us to our capital city.
Only just over 30 miles away, many Borders work in Edinburgh and have to either drive into the congested city or take a bus journey along one of Scotland’s most twisting main roads.
However, there are also quite a few people against the return of a railway, claiming it will just mean more people from Edinburgh moving here and pushing up the price of housing still further.
If people can’t afford bigger homes in Edinburgh, the worry is they will sell up those same houses for vast amounts - Edinburgh is the most expensive place in Scotland in which to live - and then buy a bigger house down here.
That makes it all the more difficult for young people born and brought up in this part of the world to get a first foot on the property ladder.
What is the trend in Mississippi? Do most people own their own homes or do they rent them? And do you guys have a good rail network?
Both the arguments for and against probably hold some water. But I think in this case those for the rail line stand up to closer scrutiny.
So, fingers crossed it’s all aboard for the Borders from now on!
(Editor’s Note: If you’d like to comment to Entwistle about owning/renting homes and/or the transportation system, email Linda Jones at email@example.com. Comments will be passed on to Enwistle and any follow-up printed here.)
Mark Entwistle is the chief reporter for The Southern Reporter, Selkirk, The Borders, Scotland. The South Reporter also sends a column to that newspaper.
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