A report detailing the advantages of enhancing and extending the Borders Railway to better serve more communities directly has been published by the Campaign for Borders Rail (CBR).
Under the report proposals, the service, which opened in September 2015 between Edinburgh, Galashiels and Tweedbank would be improved, and the line would be extended as a through route via Hawick to Carlisle, providing a new strategic link in the national network.
‘We believe that the Borders needs a through route to the south to maximise the region’s economic potential. For Hawick a rail link is vital’ the CBR briefing document states.
The Summary Case for a New Cross-Border Rail Link adds: ‘Campaign for Borders Rail is committed to making the case for further rail-led economic and social regeneration of the Borders and a transformative new cross-border rail link.’
The briefing, which is being distributed to parliamentary candidates ahead of the 8th June Westminster general election, and made widely available other individuals, stakeholders and organisations, sees the vision for an extended Borders Railway as an ‘exciting opportunity’.
The railway development would connect more of the places that were served by the Waverley Route when it closed over the 98 miles between Edinburgh and Carlisle in 1969. The existing line largely follows the course of the northern end of the old Waverley Route out of Edinburgh and through Midlothian into the central Scottish Borders.
‘This document will help inform the debate on preparing for the proposed railway through the Scottish Borders to Carlisle and beyond,’ said Allan McLean, chairman of the Campaign for Borders Rail.
‘The economies of Edinburgh, Midlothian and the northern Borders have all gained demonstrably from the opening of the Borders Railway. Now it is time for Hawick and other communities in the southern Borders to benefit directly.’
The briefing document sets out the CBR’s commercial, social and economic cases for a new railway linking the existing Tweedbank terminus to the West Coast Main Line at Mossband, just north of Carlisle.
‘The completed railway would allow through trains between Edinburgh and Carlisle, serving intermediate settlements including Hawick. Communities not directly served would benefit from access by connecting bus services and Park & Ride stations,’ the document states.
Extending the railway to Hawick and Carlisle is the only realistic proposal to adequately address economic and social problems faced by the Scottish Borders and release the full potential, states the report. Detailed studies indicate benefits for passengers and freight that can be realised by the investment.
The first copy of the report was presented by the campaign chairman, Allan McLean, to Scotland’s Minister for Transport and the Islands, Humza Yousaf MSP, at their most recent meeting at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh.