South Scotland MSP and Scottish Labour’s Transport Spokesperson Colin Smyth has reiterated his backing for an extension to the Borders Railway but stressed that the case for the for the route to run through Langholm was even stronger, following the economic impact of the current Covid-19 pandemic.
The Campaign for Borders Rail have said taking the Edinburgh to Tweedbank line on to Carlisle would be a key project post Covid-19 and the group has highlighted how important it is that coverage and capacity of line grows.
The line between Edinburgh and the Borders opened nearly five years ago but campaigners have continued to lobby to see the route extended across the border into England.
Colin Smyth said: “The campaign to extend the Borders Railway on to Carlisle has never been more important, as one of the keys to rebuilding our economy will be investment in infrastructure.
“But the importance of this project to the local economy means it needs to be about connecting communities in the South of Scotland, not passing through. That’s why I believe the route should run through Langholm, linking one the key towns to the rail line.
“The Borders Railway has been a huge success and there is a powerful case for an extension not just as far south as Hawick but beyond to Carlisle. It has been a genuine grassroots campaign that has united communities not just in the Borders but beyond.
“The economic benefits of the Borders Railway cannot be underestimated and therefore it is vitally important that Langholm is included in the route. It is not just the town itself that would profit, the surrounding communities would also gain a vital advantage.
“Including a stop in Langholm would bring significant benefits to the Eskdale community and a local economy which has suffered a number of economic shocks in recent years.
“In a post Covid-19 environment, it has the potential to open up new opportunities for tourism and attract visitors to the area.”