Newcastleton villagers fear being passed by if Borders Railway gets to go south

Hawick councillor Davie Paterson outside the old stationmaster's house in Newcastleton.
Hawick councillor Davie Paterson outside the old stationmaster's house in Newcastleton.

Villagers are rallying support to keep a bid to have any extension of the Borders Railway run through Newcastleton on the right track.

People have until next Friday, August 11, to give their views as part of the Borders transport corridors feasibility study currently being carried out by Transport Scotland on the potential to extend the route to Hawick and on to Carlisle.

Scottish Government transport minister Humza Yousaf has pledged that ministers will carefully “examine the case for and extension of the Borders Railway” from the evidence and feedback received.

Inevitably, various communities once connected by the old Waverley Route linking Edinburgh and Carlisle are anxious to get on board.

A campaign has been launched calling for the opening of Newtown’s train station in the event of the £350m Borders Railway being extended south of Tweedbank.

Newtown and Eildon Community Council is urging villagers to back its plea to be put back on track by taking part in the online survey on the future of transport services across the region.

Jacobs UK, the consultant overseeing the study, has suggested that an extension of the 30-mile Edinburgh-Tweedbank track into Cumbria could go via Langholm rather than Newcastleton, a stop on the original line closed in 1969, however, much to the disgruntlement of the latter.

Hawick and Hermitage councillor Davie Paterson says he has been approached by a number of villagers worried that Newcastleton could lose out.

Now he is hoping to get villagers to set up a lobby group to ensure that their voices are heard during the forthcoming debate.

Mr Paterson believes Newcastleton, because of its remoteness, has a unique case to be considered.

He said: “Hopefully, I can get the folk to set up a lobby group to shout for the railway.

“I get it on a regular basis from constituents about speeding timber lorries hurtling through the village.

“The roads are being destroyed by big vehicles coming and going through the village.

“If we could get some of that freight taken off the road, it would not only help the road situation, but I am sure would give a much-needed shot in the arm to the community.

“Unlike other areas, Newcastleton is so remote and so hard to find.

“Unless you are prepared to travel, and if you are unable to drive and unemployed, your chances of getting employment are somewhat reduced.

“I often get told by older constituents that when the railway was in the village, the village was thriving. Hopefully, if we are successful in getting the railway to Hawick and then on to Carlisle, it will bring much-needed benefits to all.

“I want the railway extended, and my preference would obviously be that it should go to Carlisle via Newcastleton, but I’m sure that whatever route is eventually chosen will be taken on sound economic grounds.”

Newcastleton station was opened in 1862 by the Border Union Railway on the north side of the level crossing on Langholm Street.

The goods yard at the station closed in October 1967, and the station closed to passengers, along with the rest of the line, in January 1969.

The station itself is long demolished, and all that remains is the stationmaster’s house on the south side of the level crossing.

Mr Paterson added: “There is a bit of anger in the village that a publicly-funded body such as Jacobs UK should be coming down so strongly in favour of the railway going through Langholm rather than going through Newcastleton on the way to Carlisle.”

Residents can have their say by completing the survey, which only takes five min at www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/Borders_Transport_Corridors_Study