First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced that a re-elected SNP government would commit to a feasibility study on extending the Borders Railway to Hawick.
On a visit this morning to Hawick town centre, Ms Sturgeon said: “Our rural communities and town centres are an essential part of the Scottish economy.
“The Borders Railway has been a fantastic success - boosting the economy, leading to new house building and supporting tourism in the region. Since it was opened in September last year the number of passengers has exceeded all expectations, with over half a million people travelling on the line by January.
“With this kind of success it makes sense to look at extending the line to other communities. I know there is support across the Borders for extending the line to Carlisle and if re-elected we will take the first step on that journey.
“Creating greater connectivity between businesses and communities in the Scottish Borders and the rest of the Scottish economy is key to growing the economy of the South of Scotland.
“That’s why we have committed to increasing broadband coverage to 100 per cent of businesses and households in Scotland by 2021.
“Greater connectivity, through better transport links and improved digital infrastructure can ensure that all parts of Scotland can reap the benefits of economic progress. ”
Paul Wheelhouse, SNP Candidate for Ettrick, Roxburgh & Berwickshire added: “I am delighted that a re-elected Scottish Government will look at the feasibility of extending the Borders railway as part of their wider plans to support economic growth in the Scottish Borders.
“We’re already helping rural businesses by reducing or removing business rates through the Small Business Bonus scheme – providing £33.5 million of relief to premises in the Scottish Borders since the scheme was introduced in 2008.
“If re-elected, an SNP government will maintain this vital support for each and every year of the next Parliament – ensuring that small businesses across the Scottish Borders can maintain and create jobs.
“And an SNP government will support families across the borders by stopping Tory tax cuts for the right and protect people from Labour’s plans to tax low income households.
“The SNP is the only party that can be trusted to deliver on our commitments to the Borders.”
The SNP have also promised to Deliver broadband to 100% of households by 2021, and to work with Scottish Borders Council on the Hawick Action Plan to grow the local economy.