A MINISTER of the Scottish government has reassured rail campaigners that Langholm will be considered in a study on extending the Borders Railway to Carlisle.
Joan McAlpine, South of Scotlnd MSP, welcomed the comments from Michael Matheson, transport secretary.
The MSP arranged a meeting with Mr Matheson and Langholm railway campaigners at Holyrood last week.
The campaigners sought reassurance that Langholm’s case would be given due weight in the full appraisal of proposals to extend the line, which will be undertaken early next year.
Campaigners Denis Male, Andrew Scott and Ian Royall told the minister that it would be technically easier and cheaper to run the line through Langholm, which would increase the chances of an extension to Carlisle being built.
Ms McAlpine pointed out that the major job losses in Langholm in recent years meant the case for a railway line to help tourism and economic regeneration was compelling.
Mr Matheson explained that any decision to extend the Borders Railway would be part of a process identifying national priorities for Scotland.
He added, however, that the Department of Transport in London had not yet committed the UK government to look at extending the section of the line south of the border to Carlisle.
The meeting was also attended by councillor John Campbell, a member of the Swestrans committee, the body responsible for public transport in south-west Scotland.
Joan McAlpine said: “The minister was made aware that there was a strong lobby supporting the extension of the line from Tweedbank to Carlisle which wanted the old Waverley line through Newcastleton to be reinstated.
“This would exclude Langholm as an option. I was really pleased that Mr Matheson committed the government to a fair examination of the case for both Langholm and Newcastleton.
“He told his officials to make sure Langholm and District Rail
Group was kept informed about plans and any technical information they needed to make the case.
“He also praised the work they had undertaken in making a case for reconnecting the town.
“The meeting was very timely because they were also able to tell him about the Langholm Action Plan which will be launched today.
“I was disappointed, however, to hear that the UK government has not yet committed to appraise the proposals to extend that part of the line which it controls.
“That’s disappointing when you look at the amount of work the Scottish government has done on this end.”
Denis Male said: “We had an excellent meeting with the minister. He gave us an accurate appraisal of the situation and assured us that the line through Langholm and Eskdale would be part of the consideration.
“He also said that, as well as the line from Tweedbank to Carlisle, there was consideration being given to the Tweedbank Berwick link.
“I would like to thank Joan McAlpine for setting up the meeting.”