Borders Railway goes Dutch with ambassador

The Borders Railway will benefits from contacts with similar enterprises on the continent following a special visit this week.

The Dutch Ambassador to the UK, Simon Smitts, this week visited the Scottish Borders to learn more about the area’s economy and the Borders Railway.

The Ambassador travelled from Edinburgh to Galashiels on the new line and was welcomed to the Borders by a party including the convener of Scottish Borders Council, Councillor Graham Garvie, chief executive Tracey Logan and executive member for economic development, Councillor Stuart Bell.

During his visit, Mr Smitts heard about the development and opening of the Borders Railway, and the economic opportunities that it is bringing to the area.

He also heard about the 
traditions and attractive quality of life in the Scottish Borders.

The Ambassador was particularly interested in discussing the challenges around integrating the railway with future development, as well as highlighting the various approaches used in the Netherlands to integrate cycling into the fabric of towns and villages.

It was agreed that there would be ongoing dialogue in the future with Borders Railway contacts in the Netherlands, in order to share experience and good practice, particularly around cycling and land use planning.

Councillor Graham Garvie, the convener of Scottish Borders Council, said following the visit: “I was delighted to welcome the Ambassador to the Scottish Borders and be able to promote our wonderful area and the fantastic Borders Railway.

“Hopefully this will be the start of a very productive link between Scottish Borders Council and counterparts in the Netherlands.”

Meanwhile councillor Stuart Bell, SBC’s Executive Member for Economic Development, said: “This meeting was an excellent opportunity to discuss the economic benefits of the Borders Railway and also to explore with the Dutch Ambassador the very close links between train travel and cycling in the Netherlands.

“I think that we have established contacts that will enable the Council to look at this in more detail.

“As one of the leading cycling destinations in the country, and with the establishment of the Borders Railway last year, this is an area that the Council and partners are keen to expand on and so encourage even more cycling tourism in the Scottish Borders.”