Benefits from trains must be spread wide

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It is no real surprise that passengers have flocked to the new Borders Railway. And it is no surprise either the train operators, politicians and our local council are singing the praises at the early success of the service.

They are of course perfectly correct. Almost 126,000 passenger journeys in the first four weeks plus a further 6,200 on the sell-out steam trains by the end of this month.

But what is more welcoming are the comments by Nick Henderson from the family-owned Burt’s Hotel in Melrose.

After candidly admitting to The Southern that trading had been rough of late, he confirms that the return of the railway is assisting them to focus on developments and improvements that has been put on the back burner because of the recession.

Melrose is seeing a welcome boost in trade from train passengers. Nearby Abbotsford House is staying open longer than it normally does in October – because of the trains. Other businesses, too, report a welcome upturn.

What must happen now is that this is expanded to the wider Borderland. And that needs some joined-up thinking.