Parties join forces on railway extension

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COUNCILLORS and politicians representing Liddesdale have thrown their weight behind building a railway to Carlisle through Newcastleton.

Politicians and councillors in the Borders are campaigning for the railway extension to go through NewcastletonCredit: Andrew Bethune
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Politicians and councillors in the Borders are campaigning for the railway extension to go through NewcastletonCredit: Andrew Bethune

The support was given at a meeting in Hawick called by Hawick & Hermitage councillor Davie Paterson who welcomed political differences being put aside.

Councillor Paterson said: "It was a very constructive meeting and I was glad to see that all political differences were put to one side.

"All the councillors and parliamentary representatives were 100 per cent behind the railway being extended to Hawick and to Carlisle via Newcastleton.

He said the Campaign for Borders Rail had to adopt a neutral stance on which way the railway extension progressed.

The reason he got involved was because he was approached by several constituents in Newcastleton frustrated at nothing happening at this end, while Langholm had set up a lobby group to try to get the railway to come from Hawick to Carlisle via Langholm.

He said: "If any government was serious about extending the railway to Carlisle, it would be financially insustainable to take on any other route than the existing track which is currently saved from further development.

"We all know the opening of the Borders railway has been a fantastic success but with all the economic woes we have in Hawick and Newcastleton, the economic case has to be made for extending the railway.

"It will provide better employment opportunities for all and give us better access to the economic powerhouse in north west England as well as strengthen links to Edinburgh.

"We all agreed the railway should be extended to Hawick and Carlisle via Newcastleton.

"I was given the task of writing to ministers and I have written to Humza Yousaf, Scottish transport minister, Paul Wheelhouse, minister for the economy, and Fiona Hyslop, tourism minister.

"I hope one or possibly all of them attend a future meeting. The next one is on October 27."

John Lamont, Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk MP, and Rachael Hamilton, Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire MSP, were delighted to join the calls for the line to incorporate stops at Hawick and Newcastleton before terminating in Carlisle.

The group have also written to David Mundell, Scottish Secretary, stating their support for the Borders Railway to be considered as part of the Borderlands Growth Deal.

The deal is designed to encourage investment in the Borderlands and foster cross-border links between English and Scottish local authorities, businesses and services.

Mr Lamont said: "There is clear cross-party support for this proposal among councillors.

“I look forward to working with politicians of all parties and the Campaign for Borders Rail in achieving the railway's extension."

Ms Hamilton said: “There is a clear appetite and a strong business case for extending the railway to Carlisle via Hawick on the old Newcastleton route.

"It would give easy access for tourists coming to the Borders from the south because many trains connect at Carlisle.

“The extension would provide jobs and educational opportunities and make the Borders more accessible for everyone.”

Wednesday, September 13, 2017 at 3:49PM
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