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It is a chilly morning in the Borders region of Scotland. The date is March 24 2016, and the first northbound East Coast express from King’s Cross to Edinburgh squeals to a halt at Berwick-upon-Tweed.
It wasn’t previously in the timetable for this particular train to stop at the historic border town. But 18 months previously, on September 18 2014, the people of Scotland had delivered an astonishing and last-minute victory to the previously ailing ‘Yes’ campaign for independence, after a large number of undecided female voters swung behind the campaign at the last moment after an appeal by Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
The day before, 40 Labour MPs who had previously represented Scottish constituencies (and who were only elected in May 2015) had cleared their desks at Westminster, wiping out Ed Miliband’s Westminster majority overnight. And today Alex Salmond, the new Prime Minister of Scotland, has declared independence under a government led by the Scottish National Party.
New rules - forced as a result of Scotland not yet being fully accessioned to the European Union - mean that passport checks are required at the border with England. And with the new facilities not yet ready, businessmen, students, senior citizens, families with children, tourists and staff all stream off the train under the Lowland drizzle into a makeshift marquee and security facility in the station car park, before being allowed back on the train.
Surely the above is pure fantasy? Eurostar is forced to carry out passport checks on some St Pancras-bound trains at Lyon in 2014, despite the UK being a part of the EU, but surely long-established East Coast and West Coast expresses would continue unhindered in their progress across the border?
“In the event of a ‘Yes’ vote, cross-boundary rail services, including improvements to these such as high-speed rail, would be subject to change.
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