Local politicians react to Borders Railway extension study go-ahead from the UK Government

Local politicians have been reacting to the news that the UK Government has backed a full feasibility study into extending the Borders Railway.

Sep 09 2015;  Large crowds gather at Newtongrange as the Queen opens the Borders Railway. credit steven scott taylor / J P License
Sep 09 2015; Large crowds gather at Newtongrange as the Queen opens the Borders Railway. credit steven scott taylor / J P License

The study could see the line continue past its current end at Tweedbank, going to Hawick, Newcastleton and on to Carlisle. The progress of the study is now dependent on Scottish Ministers agreeing to give it the go-ahead.

The former line has been a success since it was re-opened in 2015, with passenger numbers exceeding early estimates. However, recent issues on the line, which includes Midlothian stations at Newtongrange, Gorebridge, Eskbank and Shawfair, have led to calls for rail operator Abellio to lose the Scotrail franchise.

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Cancellations and a lack of carriages, leading to regular overcrowding, have caused anger and dismay to Midlothian commuters.

Sep 09 2015; Large crowds gather at Newtongrange as the Queen opens the Borders Railway. credit steven scott taylor / J P License

Although happy to see the UK Government back a feasibility study into extending the line, Midlothian MP Danielle Rowley (Lab) wants to see the current issues resolved first. She said: “Whilst an extension to serve more areas in Scotland is a good idea, first the Scottish Government must hold Scotrail to account to fix the terrible service they currently provide, and put on more carriages so passengers in Midlothian aren’t crammed into overpacked trains.”

Also reacting to Monday’s news about the study, Midlothian South MSP Christine Grahame (SNP)said: “The Borders Railway has been a fantastic success – boosting the economy, leading to new house building and supporting tourism in the region.

“My constituents will significantly benefit from any welcome extension to the existing Borders Railway, and I am sure they will welcome the news of a feasibility study into benefits of extending the railway to Hawick, Newcastleton and Carlisle.

“The SNP has always backed a feasibility study and has made a significant investment in the economic development of the Scottish Borders since being in Government. I am pleased that the Tories are now supportive of the Borders Railway line, given that they thought the money on the railway could be better spent, but times and views do thankfully change.”