Borders village pleading to be put back on track

Newtown's railway station prior to its closure in 1969.
Newtown's railway station prior to its closure in 1969.

A campaign has been launched calling for the reopening of Newtown’s train station in the event of the Borders Railway being extended south of Tweedbank.

Newtown and Eildon Community Council is urging villagers to back its plea to be put back on track by taking part in an online survey on the future of transport services across the region.

Daryl du Bois.

Daryl du Bois.

People have until Friday, August 11, to give their views as part of the Borders transport corridors study currently being carried out by Transport Scotland.

“This is an important opportunity for us to make our views known,” said community council chairwoman Daryl du Bois. “Perhaps Newtown can once again be on the railway map of Great Britain.”

Newtown was one of four stations between Galashiels and Hawick on the route of the original 98-mile Waverley Route linking Edinburgh with Carlisle in Cumbria. The others were at Melrose to the north and Belses and Hassendean to the south.

The station opened as Newtown Junction in 1849 and, from 1865, its name was changed to St Boswells. It was closed to passengers in January 1969 and shut down completely four months later.

Although Newtown has served as the region’s local government headquarters since 1975, its importance as a commercial centre, particularly as a venue for livestock sales, has waned since the railway station there closed.

At the last meeting of the community council, members welcomed the Transport Scotland survey and the accompanying assurance from Scottish Government transport minister Humza Yousaf that ministers plan to “examine the case for an extension of the Borders Railway”.

“At our meeting, the view was expressed strongly that any extension of the railway to Hawick or even to Carlisle should benefit Newtown,” said Mrs du Bois.

“If the trains come this way, then Newtown should definitely have its railway station reinstated.

“Given our historic association with the Waverley Line, our central position in the Borders and with the headquarters of Scottish Borders Council being here, the village could become an important transport interchange.

“Having a station will bring commercial benefits to our community, as well as better transport links.

“We have already seen that public opinion can influence transport decisions, with the lobbying of residents in Stow instrumental in securing a station for that village on the Borders Railway.

“I would urge all our residents to search for Borders transport corridors study and have their say before August 11. The survey only takes five minutes to complete and can be anonymous.”

Go to www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/Borders_Transport_Corridors_Study to have your say.