The publication of a Borders Railway Prospectus which aims to inform ongoing discussions about the extension of the Borders Railway to Carlisle is a “welcome move”, according to South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth.
Released by the Borderlands Partnership, the prospectus will be part of ongoing discussions between the UK and Scottish Governments about the plans.
Work to assess the benefits and challenges of options to extend the Edinburgh –Tweedbank Borders Railway to Carlisle is part of the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal, which was signed on 18 March by both UK and Scottish Governments, and the five Borderlands partners – Carlisle City Council, Cumbria County Council, Dumfries and Galloway Council, Northumberland County Council and Scottish Borders Council.
£10 million is allocated to support this work, with the evidence base progressed initially through Transport Scotland’s on-going second Strategic Transport Projects Review in Scotland while the UK Government Department for Transport progress complementary work with a wider UK perspective.
Colin Smyth said: “It’s good to see progress being made by the Borderlands Partnership to support moves to extend the Borders Railway to Carlisle.
“The campaign to extend the railway has never been more important and is key to rebuilding the South Scotland economy and taking the climate emergency seriously.
“The importance of the project to the local economy means it needs to be about connecting communities in the South of Scotland, not passing by. That’s why I believe the route should run through Langholm, linking one of the key populations 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.”