The Scottish Government is under pressure to back a full feasibility study into extending the Borders Railway.
Representatives from the Campaign for Borders Railway were in Westminster this week to press home to UK Transport Minister, Andrew Jones,
the need for this study.
The UK Government announced it would back a full feasibility study into extending the Borders Railway to Hawick, Newcastleton and on to Carlisle, as part of the £345m Borderlands Growth Deal. The deal is jointly funded by the UK and Scottish Government, and progress of the study is now dependent on Scottish Ministers giving it the go ahead.
It is expected that the details for the Borderlands will be signed off in June, meaning the feasibility study could begin as early as this year.
Ahead of the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections, the First Minister promised a feasibility study into extending the railway. To date all that has been produced is a Transport Scotland report which lists extending the Borders Railway as a possible option which may be considered at a future date.
Following the meeting, the Minister has agreed to pursue the issue with his counterparts in the Scottish Government.
Borders MP, John Lamont said: “I was pleased to welcome Simon, Marion and Nick from the Campaign for Borders Railway to Westminster. They have done a huge amount of work to keep the momentum behind bringing the Borders Railway to Hawick, Newcastleton and on to Carlisle.
“It was useful to get another commitment from the Minister that the UK Government understands the need for this full feasibility study.
“Given that the SNP promised a full study back in 2016, I’ve been surprised by how quiet they have been on this issue. As the time goes on, the Scottish Government are under increasing pressure to catch up and back this full study so that we can get on with the next stage of extending the Borders Railway.”
Simon Walton, chairman of the Campaign for Borders Railway said: “We were delighted to have the opportunity to have a meaningful meeting with the Transport Minister to discuss the extension to Borders Railway.
“It was great to get the opportunity to seek further relations between the Scottish Government and the UK Government. The Campaign for Borders Railway looks forward to the Minister initiating discussions with his Scottish Government counterpart.
“We see this as a way to bring to the national agenda the strategic importance of this new cross border link and the economic benefits that it will spread across the Borderlands, and throughout the UK.”