Transport Scotland announces a study examining the reopening of the Borders Railway all the way to Carlisle.
CAMPAIGNERS have welcomed the announcement of a study that will investigate the reopening of the Borders Railway all the way through to Carlisle.
Currently the line from Edinburgh terminates at Tweedbank. The section between Newcraighall and Tweedbank reopened in September 2015 after 46 years ( RAIL 783), but long before then campaigners had been calling for the railway’s extension to the Cumbrian city.
On April 10, Transport Scotland (TS) announced that extending the 30½-mile railway a further 63 miles to Carlisle is one of the options to be considered by a new study looking at improving transport provision in the south of Scotland across all modes - including road, rail and public transport.
A contract will be awarded to Jacobs UK Ltd, subject to completion of the mandatory standstill period. Work on the study is expected to start within days, and TS expects it to take around seven months to complete.
Findings will help inform the planned refresh of the Scottish Government’s Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR), which will look at future transport proposals for the whole country.
Campaigners also hope that the Scottish Government has learned lessons from the reopening of the Newcraighall-Tweedbank section, where punctuality has been poor and far more passengers have travelled on the route than predicted ( RAIL 815).
“We want to build on the existing Borders Railway by considering whether it should be extended to Carlisle. The study will also look at how we improve access from the Scottish Borders to key markets into Edinburgh, Carlisle and Newcastle,” said Scotland’s Transport Minister Humza Yousaf.
“Working with partners in Scottish Borders Council and SEStran, Transport Scotland will identify a range of options for improving transport that can be considered as part of the review of the Strategic Transport Projects Review, which will look at future transport infrastructure projects for the whole of Scotland. These options could include new rail services, improvements to existing road infrastructure and improved public transport provision.”
Campaign for Borders Rail Secretary Nick Bethune told RAIL that the group welcomed the study, adding: “We hope it goes on to recommend a full and fit-for-purpose feasibility study for a through route from Tweedbank to Hawick and Carlisle. It would be disappointing if the outcome saw less sustainable transport options prioritised over extending the Borders Railway.”
Bethune said that the current railway only partly addresses the economic harm caused by the line’s 1969 closure.
“Hawick, the worst affected town, remains isolated and in decline. Poor links to the south limit the region’s economic potential. The only realistic proposal that adequately addresses these problems is the extension of the Borders Railway to Hawick and Carlisle. This would provide a gateway to the region from the economic powerhouse of North West England and strengthen links to Edinburgh."