Borders rail link in line to create £250m
THE re-opening of the Borders rail link with Edinburgh will bring a £258 million boost to economies around the line, according to a new report published today.
Midlothian would be the largest beneficiary of the proposed link and could expect to gain financially by as much as 136m.
A study prepared by public sector consultants Tribal HCH found that the Borders could see an injection of up to 112m as a result of the service.
The report also identified a "sustained increase in the employment base" of the Borders, Midlothian and Edinburgh. Up to 548 jobs will be created across the three local authorities - 308 in Midlothian and 213 in the Borders with the rest in Edinburgh - through construction and spin-offs once the line is re-opened.
The extra jobs are expected to add as much as 4.9m to the total annual income figure for the Borders and 5.7m for Midlothian.
Meanwhile, the figures show that up to 1800 new houses will be constructed as a direct result of the rail line being reinstated - 700 in Midlothian and 1100 in the Borders.
Jim Dunsmuir, chairman of the Waverley Railway Partnership and cabinet member for strategic services at Midlothian Council, said: "The most recent economic impact study by Tribal HCH supports our view that this rail line will deliver sustained economic and social development opportunities in the years ahead.
"The Executive is considering the case for the rail line and is fully informed of the positive economic impact the rail line will bring.
"More than 550 sustained jobs, economic benefits of 258m in the first 30 years of operation and the new housing opportunities for people living and working in the three local authorities all add up to an extremely strong case for the reinstatement of the line."
He added: "In addition to these positive factors, there is also a strong case on transport and environmental grounds. The rail line will provide increased transport options to and from the Borders and Midlothian along with a resultant reduction in car journeys into the city and the related reduction in congestion and pollution from exhaust fumes."
The Waverley Railway Partnership is an organisation comprising of Midlothian, Edinburgh and Borders councils and is supported by Scottish Enterprise Borders.
The body is campaigning for the re-opening of a regular passenger rail service between Edinburgh Waverley Station and the central Borders of Scotland. If the project receives the green light, it will involve the laying of 29 miles of new rail line and six new stations at Shawfair, Eskbank, Newtongrange, Gorebridge, Galashiels and Tweedbank. Trains will stop at the newly opened Edinburgh Park station then travel on to central Scotland, while also servicing Edinburgh Airport.
City transport leader Andrew Burns said: "The Borders rail line provides obvious transport-related advantages in offering an environmentally-friendly alternative to travelling to the city in a car.
"In addition, employers in the city and surrounding areas will have a more accessible labour pool available with the opening of links to and from Midlothian and the Borders.
"The project could also alleviate pressure on Edinburgh’s green belt by offering new housing options along the route corridor."
Operating costs are put at 6.34m, with first-year revenue from ticket sales of 4.76m anticipated.
Financial backing for the 130m link is likely to come from the Executive, despite recent suggestions that the business case for the project does not represent value for money.
Transport Minister Nicol Stephen was understood to have received a report which says the 30-mile-long rail service would be too costly for the limited benefit it would provide.
But specialist rail consultant Corus has suggested extending the proposed line to Melrose, which it claims would make it much more viable, by attracting tourists and commuters alike.
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