South Scotland

Alex Salmond makes Borders rail time and budget pledge

First Minister Alex Salmond has told MSPs the Borders railway will open by 2014 and within its £295m budget.

He was responding to concerns raised by Labour's infrastructure spokesman Lewis Macdonald.

Mr Salmond said the track record of Transport Scotland in delivering infrastructure projects under his government was "impeccable".

He said Transport Minister Keith Brown would be making a statement on delivery of the line in the near future.

Concerns resurfaced earlier this week that construction of the Tweedbank to Edinburgh route could be delayed and costs rise, as only one bidder for the project remains.

'End speculation'

Mr Macdonald asked if the SNP government intended to put a cap on spending for the scheme.

The first minister said the stated budget was between £235m to £295m and they would be "sticking to that".

South of Scotland Lib Dem MSP Jim Hume asked what assurances he could give over the opening of the line when the timetable was going "back and back".

Mr Salmond said it would be delivered "on budget and by December 2014".

He said his government had seen "project after project" completed on time and without breaking spending projections.

The imminent statement by Mr Brown on the Borders railway was welcomed by Mr Macdonald.

He said he hoped it would be made "as soon as possible so we can bring an end to any speculation about the fate of the scheme".

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