Seventy-year-old councillor, Ron Smith, has made the bold prediction that the railway could return to Hawick in his lifetime.
The former depute high school rector was responding to the news that £100,000 will be spent over the next 12 months on a feasibility study to consider the scope for the Borders Railway – which opens in September and terminates at Tweedbank – being extended south.
The cash is coming from an £8million Scottish Government-headed fund – the so-called Borders Railway Blueprint – which, along with £7.6million being contributed from Scottish Borders Council, seeks to fully exploit the economic potential of the line.
Although most of that activity will be focused on the central Borders, around £750,000 will be spent marketing tourist attractions, including the Heart of Hawick, to rail passengers.
Last week’s SBC meeting also heard that Abellio, which has taken over the Scotrail franchise, was negotiating with bus operators to create intergrated rail/bus tickets.
This would allow travellers from Hawick to buy a single ticket to anywhere in Scotland served by bus and rail.
However, it was the commitment to examine extending the railway south which was hailed by Councillor Smith as “a really good news story”. “This is an acknowledgement that the opening of the line in September is not an end itself, but a springboard to a new era of connectivity for the whole of our region,” he stated.
“We have the possibility of HS2 being extended into Scotland and a cross-country railway for timber transport at Kielder which would dovetail with the line being extended south.”
“That is why our new local development plan has safeguarded the route of the old Waverley Line.
“I really can see a railway coming to Hawick and south in my lifetime.”
This week the last bridge was installed, completing the refurbishment of 95 and the construction of 42.