Borders Railway extension campaign boosted by English council’s backing

A steam train on the Borders Railway in Galashiels bound for Tweedbank.
A steam train on the Borders Railway in Galashiels bound for Tweedbank.

Calls for the Borders Railway to be extended through Hawick are building up a head of steam now Carlisle City Council has joined forces with campaigners to keep up the pressure on transport chiefs.

The council’s leader, Colin Glover, has held talks with the Campaign for Borders Rail in a bid to stimulate economic growth by reinstating the line between Carlisle and the central Borders via Longtown.

The prospect of a reopened railway to Longtown, Hawick and Edinburgh took a significant step forward last week when Mr Glover met members of the campaign group, now pushing to have the line extended to Cumbria.

An initial survey, sponsored by the Scottish Government, is already expected to indicate widespread public support for a longer line.

The meeting, hosted by Mr Glover and chaired by campaign group chairman Allan McLean, confirmed a joint desire to see such a line form the backbone of the Borderlands initiative, a UK Government plan for cross-border economic development.

Mr Glover said that a rebuilt line through Longtown and Hawick was a “logical step forward” from the safeguarding of the route in the Cumbrian council’s existing local plan.

“There are clear benefits for Carlisle,” he said.

“Building a new line supports plans for growth all over the city and region.”

The campaign is taking the case for extension of the 30-mile line by 56 miles into England, recreating the old Waverley Route linking Edinburgh and Carlisle closed in 1969, to officials at both Westminster and Holyrood.

Mr McLean said there are clear advantages for extending the Edinburgh-Tweedbank railway, opened two years ago tomorrow, September 9, at a cost of £350m, for communities and businesses on both sides of the border.

He said: “As part of an integrated plan for the Carlisle region, a rail link with the markets of the Borders makes perfect economic sense.”

Mr Glover is set to address the campaign’s 2017 annual meeting in Hawick on Saturday, October 21.

Hawick and Hermitage councillor Davie Paterson said: “I agree 100% with Mr Glover that to extend the railway is a logical step, and here’s hoping that the study being carried out by Jacobs on behalf of the Scottish Government does come down in favour of extending the railway from Tweedbank to Hawick and then on to Carlisle via Newcastleton.

“I was actually at the same meeting in Carlisle, and it was one of the most fruitful meetings that I have ever attended.”