Partnership puts railway back on track

The announcement that Transport Scotland is to work with Network Rail in partnership with the local authorities affected should bring much-needed stability to the long-awaited Borders railway project.

The railway is a hugely important project for the area, opening up opportunities for regeneration, and its case has been bolstered by effective campaigning by the Campaign for Borders Rail.

The line will not only help people to access work, education and social opportunities in Edinburgh, but will also encourage greater investment in the Borders, encouraging new businesses into the area, boosting tourism and creating jobs in our communities.

Beyond the economic arguments there is the issue of sustainable transport, in which I have long had an interest. The Borders railway has the potential to take many cars off our roads, reducing our carbon footprint, and making roads safer. If we can make the case for freight traffic on the line, these benefits can be even further enhanced.

There are recent precedents demonstrating the positive impact that renewed rail links can bring to areas away from urban centres. The Airdrie-Bathgate and Larkhall-Milngavie lines have witnessed stronger demand than anticipated. I am convinced that the same will be true of the Borders railway once it is complete and believe that this could act as a springboard for potential expansion of the line on to Hawick and beyond.

With the project back on track, the onus is now on the Scottish Government, through Transport Scotland, to provide the leadership to ensure that the line is delivered on time and on budget.

Claudia Beamish

(MSP, South of Scotland)