South Scotland

Borders to Edinburgh rail project's progress assessed

Transport Minister Keith Brown has visited the Borders to check on the progress being made on the rail route linking the region to Edinburgh.

He was in Galashiels to meet officials from Transport Scotland and Scottish Borders Council.

As well as the rail project he was also briefed on the town's inner relief road works.

The rail line linking Tweedbank in the Borders with the capital is scheduled to see its first trains in late 2014.

Mr Brown said carrying out rail works at the same time as the relief road made sense as it would minimise disturbance to drivers.

He said: "This project is a sign of the Scottish government's commitment to developing rail services and so I have been delighted to come along and see how the groundwork is beginning to take shape here in Galashiels.

"The town's new inner relief road will assist the construction of this hugely important scheme, bringing the very real benefits of around 300 jobs and vital investment to Galashiels and the rest of the Scottish Borders, whilst causing as little disruption as possible.

"As well as the more obvious jobs and investment benefits, this line will also cut carbon emissions and congestion on the roads."

He said it would also reduce the number of road accidents on the A7 and A68.

SBC leader David Parker said he was pleased Mr Brown had come to check on the works.

"This year will herald the start of full scale construction of the line and a significant amount of work is being done already to make the line a reality," he said.

"I am thrilled at the prospect of the line's return to the Borders as it will provide significant economic benefit to our region.

"In a relatively short space of time people will see the reality of construction of the railway and I have no doubt that the scheme will be a resounding success."

The tender process for the £295m scheme was scrapped last year.

Network Rail has been asked to deliver the 35-mile (56km) railway project after two of three bidders for the work pulled out.

There have been regular concerns expressed about the plans but the Scottish government has repeatedly renewed its commitment to the route.

The rail link will re-establish passenger railway services from Edinburgh through Midlothian to Tweedbank for the first time since 1969.

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