Carlisle the ‘logical step forward’

11/08/16. TSPL Shift. Borders Railway.  A train bound for Edinburgh Waverley pulls out off Newtongrange Station, picture to illustrate story. 
Punctuality on the Borders Railway - weeks from its first birthday - has reached "shocking" levels with as few as one in five trains arriving on time, campaigners reveal. 
Picture Ian Rutherford
11/08/16. TSPL Shift. Borders Railway. A train bound for Edinburgh Waverley pulls out off Newtongrange Station, picture to illustrate story. Punctuality on the Borders Railway - weeks from its first birthday - has reached "shocking" levels with as few as one in five trains arriving on time, campaigners reveal. Picture Ian Rutherford

Carlisle City Council has joined the army of organisations fighting for the Borders Railway to be extended south.

The council’s leader, Cllr Colin Glover, has held joint talks with the Campaign for Borders Rail, agreeing to stimulate economic growth through reinstatement of the railway between Carlisle, Longtown, and the Central Borders.

The prospect of a reopened railway to Longtown, Hawick and Edinburgh took a significant step forward last week, when Mr Glover met with the Campaign for Borders Rail, the group that successfully lobbied for the opening of the Borders Railway between Edinburgh and Tweedbank, and is working to have the line extended through Hawick to Carlisle.

An initial survey, sponsored by the Scottish Government, is already expected to indicate widespread public support.

The meeting, hosted by Mr Glover and chaired by the campaign’s Allan McLean, confirmed a joint desire to see the line form the backbone of the Borderlands Initiative, the central-government backed plan for cross-border economic development.

The campaign’s recently-published document, “Summary Case for a New Cross-Border Rail Link” has already been widely received by governments, industry and communities set to benefit from the project.

Mr Glover said that a rebuilt line through Longtown and Hawick was a “logical step forward” from the safeguarding of the route in the council’s existing Local Plan.

“There are clear benefits for Carlisle,” he said. “Building a new line supports plans for growth all over the city and region.

“This would add significantly to economic growth in Longtown, the new air services from Carlisle, and our aims to encourage modal shift from road to rail for freight.

“This helps make Carlisle an even more vital part of the Northern Powerhouse.”

The Campaign is taking the case for completion of the line to governments in both Westminster and Holyrood.

Mr McLean said there are clear imperatives for both sides of the Border.

He said: “As part of an integrated plan for the Carlisle region, a rail link with the markets of the Borders makes perfect economic sense.

“Both governments, five local authorities, and a broad support from industry and communities, make taking the Borders Railway through Hawick to Carlisle an unequivocal case.”

Mr Glover is set to address the campaign AGM in Hawick on October 21.

Both bodies have meetings with UK and Scottish governments to press their joint case.

Scottish Borders Council also, as expected, backed the railway’s extension south at their meeting on Thursday, August 24.