UK Government Prime Minister Theresa May is being urged to back calls for the Borders Railway to be extended south into England.
Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk MP John Lamont called on Mrs May to declare her support for the campaign to have the Edinburgh-Tweedbank line carry on to Hawick and from there into Cumbria at this week’s Prime Minister’s questions session in the House of Commons.
He told her: “The Prime Minister will be aware of the campaign to extend the Borders Railway from Tweedbank to Hawick and Newcastleton and on to Carlisle.
“That would provide a huge boost to the local economy and would help demonstrate what Scotland’s two governments can do for my region, so what will the Prime Minister do to ensure there is sufficient resource in the Borderlands growth deal to allow this project to move forward?”
Mrs May claimed that the issue was one devolved to the Scottish Government, though that only applies to any length of line north of the border, and not one for the UK Parliament but did offer some encouragement.
“I understand the importance to partners across the region of the campaign and proposal to which my honorable friend refers,” she told him.
“I am sure he understands that this is a devolved transport issue, but I encourage all parties involved to come to a workable solution and to ensure the best outcome for the entire region because this could bring great benefits.
“On his point about the Borderlands growth deal, may I assure him that the UK and Scottish governments will continue to work in partnership to deliver that deal?”
Mr Lamont was heartened by that response, saying afterwards: “I was pleased to be able to raise the campaign to bring the Borders Railway to Hawick directly with the Prime Minister.
“Bringing the line to Hawick would be transformational for the town, and although it is not going to happen overnight, I am confident that we have an opportunity to push the campaign on to the next stage.
“Bringing the Borders Railway to Hawick, Newcastleton and Carlisle is exactly the type of project which the Borderlands deal should be promoting.
“It would be a massive boost for Hawick and the rest of the Borders and would improve connectivity in the region, particularly if the line was to link up to the west coast main line.
“I am determined to continue to pursue this issue and make sure that the Borderlands deal moves this vital project forward.”
Extending the £353m line, opened in September 2015, to Hawick, via Melrose, would add about 17 miles to its current 30-mile length, and carrying onto Carlisle, via either Langholm or Newcastleton, recreating the old Waverley Route closed in 1969, would add another 50-plus miles on top of that.