South Scotland

Borders to Edinburgh railway announcement due 'shortly'

Transport Minister Keith Brown has said an announcement on the deal to build the Borders railway is due shortly.

He told the Scottish Parliament a statement would be made after contract terms were agreed with Network Rail.

He was speaking amid concerns that the route might fall further behind schedule and over budget.

Mr Brown said the Scottish government was "not complacent at all" about the costs of the scheme to reopen the route between Edinburgh and Tweedbank.

Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale SNP MSP Christine Grahame raised the issue of the timescale for the project.

It came after reports that it might miss its late 2014 deadline and slip into 2015 and also see costs rise by more than £50m to about £350m.

"We expect to make an announcement with regard to the Borders railway shortly once the commercial terms of the contract between Scottish ministers and Network Rail are finalised," said Mr Brown.

However, he confirmed that the possibility of tourist trains on the route was being considered "very seriously".

He added that a journey time target between the capital and Tweedbank remained at under an hour.

Conservative MSP for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, John Lamont, questioned the rising costs of the scheme.

He asked whether the minister agreed with the view that any increase in expenditure was acceptable as long it saw the route completed.

"It is never going to be the case that we will by happy to see an increase in the project costs," said Mr Brown.

"We are not complacent at all about the costs of this and we will do all that we can to drive down costs."

He was also asked by south of Scotland Labour MSP Claudia Beamish about accessibility to stations on the route.

Mr Brown confirmed that park and ride facilities would be an "integral part" of the project.

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