MSPs clash on Borders Railway

A RETURN to public ownership of Scotland’s railways could lead to the reinstatement of trains along the former Waverley line from Carlisle to Edinburgh, writes Kenny Paterson.

Christine Grahame supported a motion at the Scottish National Party’s conference in Perth for such a move, which she believes would bring private profit out of what she says is a public service.

The Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale representative previously dismissed claims by fellow Borders MSP John Lamont that other transport initiatives in the region are being ignored in favour of the current Borders Railway project, which is due to run from Tweedbank to Edinburgh.

She added: “We need no lessons from Mr Lamont or his Conservative colleagues when it comes to financial prudence. He should be supporting this crucial infrastructure investment which will be important for the economic well-being of the Scottish Borders.”

Mr Lamont also claimed the completion date of the project will be put back from 2014 to 2015 in the next few weeks.

And he cited a freedom of information request which revealed £54million has been spent on the initiative without a piece of track being laid.

Mr Lamont added: “There is every possibility that with the Galashiels Railway we could see a repeat of the Edinburgh trams debacle. With every delay the cost of the project rises even further over budget.”

However, Scottish Borders Council leader David Parker retorted: “Mr Lamont’s press release is just mischief making and political posturing of the worst kind. It is inaccurate and draws incorrect parallel in relation to costs and quite honestly, no-one will be losing any sleep about what John Lamont is saying in this release.”

A Transport Scotland spokesman said the contract for the project with Network Rail is due to be signed later this month, which is likely to confirm the expected completion date.