Meeting will help get railway plan on track


CAMPAIGNERS fighting to bring the Borders Railway through Langholm and Eskdale can have their say at a workshop next week.

Jacobs, the company commissioned by Transport Scotland to undertake the Borders Transport Corridors - Pre-Appraisal study, is hosting the event in the Heart of Hawick next Thursday at 10am.

The Langholm and District Rail Group has been invited as a key stakeholder with an interest in the transport network in the Scottish Borders.

This covers not only the Borders Railway extension but also improvements to the A7, A1 and A68.

Stuart Turnbull, project director at Jacobs, said: "we're holding this event to capture the views of key stakeholder organisations. These will be critical as we gather evidence on issues and opportunities for transport in the Borders and set objectives for the study.

"This study will assess accessibility to and from the Borders by all modes, with an emphasis on links to and from Edinburgh, Newcastle and Carlisle.

"It will focus on key strategic corridors and our aim is to better understand the issues and opportunities on the existing network on the existing network.

"As part of the pre-appraisal, we are also keen to hear views on potential high-level options to address the issues and opportunities identified."

A follow-up session to the full-day workshop will be held later in the summer. Jacobs' report will be completed by the end of this year.

The study is looking merely at the feasibility of extending the Borders Railway from Tweedbank to Carlisle and no decision will be made on which route it will take - through Newcastleton or Langholm.

Denis Male, Langholm rail group's chairman, said they first had to establish the principle of extending the railway and the choice of route would follow later.

They set up a committee and opened a Facebook page which had gathered several hundred members and more than 300 people had signed interest sheets saying they would be interested in using a railway.

The group contacted Swestrans, the public transport body in south-west Scotland, the Borders Rail Group, Buccleuch Estates, Dumfries and Galloway Council, MP David Mundell, MSPs, Transport Scotland and businesses.

They agreed that the issue of freight should be raised with the Scottish government and Jacobs, particularly the opportunity to transport timber.

They are now drawing up a business plan to present to Humza Yousaf, transport minister, and Jacobs. They are to seek input from the Langholm Initiative, Canonbie and District Residents Association and Upper Eskdale Development Group.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017 at 10:39AM
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