QUESTIONS are being asked about whether the Borders railway project is still on track to be completed on time, by the end of 2014, but whether it is or not local MSP John Lamont is reminding the Scottish Government that there are other transport projects in the Borders in need of investment.
Transport Minister Keith Brown visited the area this week to discuss progress of the line with Scottish Borders Council leader David Parker, and while both men maintained a united front that the project was still on course, industry experts are reported to have said “there is not a hope in hell” of the railway line being ready by the end of 2014.
Network Rail took over the project five months ago after two of the three private sector companies withdrew their bids for the £235-295 million contract, and they are currently assessing whether it can be completed on time.
Councillor Parker said this week that he expected the work to start in November or December of this year, although he admitted that the “timetable is ambitious and will be tough for the contractors to meet”.
Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale MSP Christine Grahame (SNP) said that progress is still expected and “there is no slippage”.
But after Mr Brown’s visit to Galashiels this week, MSP for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, John Lamont highlighted the need for investment in transport projects across the Borders, instead of concentrating on the Galashiels Railway project.
Accusing the SNP Government of neglecting other roads and public transport links in the rest of the Borders Mr Lamont said: “There are many transport projects in the Borders that need and require investment, but instead the Galashiels Railway project has soaked up funding.
“With investment needed in our road network across the Borders the railway project has denied vital funds that could have been directed towards providing residents with better roads and public transport links. There is broad support from across the Borders for these improvements yet the SNP have chosen to ignore these voices.
“The SNP wrongly think that this railway is the solution to all of our transport problems in the Borders.”