Campaigners are marking the second anniversary of the opening of the Borders Railway by stepping up their calls for it to be extended into England.
Even before Queen Elizabeth II declared the Edinburgh-Tweedbank line open two years ago last Saturday, ScotRail and the Scottish Government were being urged to go further, and that pressure has been mounting ever since.
Borders MP John Lamont and MSP Rachael Hamilton are backing to calls for the £350m line to be extended by almost 70 miles, recreating the old Waverley Route closed in 1969, into Cumbria, and they met representative of the Campaign for Borders Railway on Friday to pledge their support.
That meeting followed a vote by Scottish Borders Council the week before to unanimously support a motion in favour of an extension of the 30-mile track to Carlisle via Hawick and Newcastleton.
The campaign group, founded in 1999, has also written to fellow Borders MP and Scottish Secretary David Mundell MP urging that an extension of the 30-mile track be considered as part of the UK Government’s Borderlands growth deal to encourage investment in the Borders and northern England.
Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk MP Mr Lamont said: “It was great to meet with the Campaign for Borders Rail and discuss how we can push the Scottish Government to build the extension of the railway from Tweedbank onto Hawick and Carlisle via Newcastleton.
“There is clear cross-party support for this proposal among councillors.”
“I look forward to working with politicians of all parties and the Campaign for Borders Rail in achieving the extension of the Borders Railway.”
Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire MSP Mrs Hamilton said: “There is clear local appetite and a strong business case for extending the Borders Railway to Carlisle via Hawick on the old Newcastleton route.
“One of the great things about this is that it would provide easy access for tourists coming to the Borders from the south as many trains connect at Carlisle.
“A railway extension would also provide future job prospects and educational opportunities and make the Borders more accessible for everyone.”
Simon Walton, a spokesman for the campaign group, added: “The benefits of a through route extend far beyond those communities directly served by the railway.
“Bringing a new railway to Hawick and on to Carlisle offers the most tangible and realistic way of improving opportunities for economic development.
“As an enshrined part of the Borderlands growth deal, a commitment to building the line would send a secure message about the future of the Borders and go a long way to encouraging the inward investment we all so much desire.
“The benefits would be felt for generations to come.”