The Campaign for Borders Rail was told by Christine Grahame MSP that the case for extending the line from Tweedbank to Carlisle, was “absolutely rock solid”.
The Midlothian South SNP MSP, who has been an enthusiastic supporter of the campaign throughout its 20-year existence, made the comment at the campaign group’s AGM earlier this week.
She said: “The Borders railway, this people’s railway which came about through a petition with 17,000 signatures, won unanimous support for its re-instatement all the way to Carlisle in the year 2000. Yes there have been problems though many have been resolved over the five years.
“Passenger journeys have well exceeded projections running at over 1.7 million in the year 2017-18 up from 1.5 million the year before.
“To some extent it has been a victim of its own success, but rather that than a victim of failure!
“It has encouraged other communities to campaign for reinstatement of rail links lost to them in the years of the Beeching cuts when the rail network in Scotland was decimated.
“It’s success has shown that the case for the extension into the UK network and on to the European rail network is rock solid.”
The prospect of rebuilding the southern section of the line, joining up with the existing Borders Railway from Edinburgh, would make a through route in the Scottish Borders a reality for the first time in 50 years.
Simon Walton, re-elected as chairman of the Campaign, said he shared that commitment, and urged campaigners to “raise their game” as the campaign sought to ensure that the promise of £10m for a feasibility study, made by the Holyrood and Westminster governments in September, remains top of the agenda.
“I have always regarded the existing Borders Railway as phase one of our ambition for the Borders. Getting commitment to build the remainder has to be our next goal, and we’re moving closer to that every day,” he said.
“The political climate has moved significantly in favour of environmentally sustainable economic development.
“That means railway projects like the completion of the Borders Railway make even more sense as a means of rejuvenating communities at the same time as greening the environment.”