South Scotland

Borders to Edinburgh railway: Deal reaction rolls in

Former railway station
Image caption Trains have not run to the Scottish Borders since the Waverley Line was closed in 1969

Transport Secretary Keith Brown has signed a deal with Network Rail to deliver a rail link between the Borders and Edinburgh.

It will see trains run to the region for the first time in more than 40 years.

The target remains late 2014 but the terms of the contract have set summer 2015 as the date by which the route will be operational.

The project has divided opinion both locally and nationally since a campaign was launched to see a route restored more than a decade ago.

Here is some of the reaction to the latest developments.

Lorne Anton, Campaign for Borders Rail

CBR was launched in 1999 and has played a key role in leading grassroots support for the return of the railway - not least with our 17,200-signature petition presented to the Scottish Parliament's petitions committee in March 2000.

Together with the local community we also secured a station in the village of Stow, which was not part of the original official proposal.

CBR will continue to campaign for the extension of the reopening to Hawick and, eventually, Carlisle, and sees the reconnection of Hawick to the national rail network as crucial to the town's future growth and prosperity.

Paul Tetlaw, Transform Scotland

Image caption The trains will take passengers from the Borders to the heart of Edinburgh in under an hour

We welcome the announcement of the final go-ahead for the building of the Borders Railway.

Network Rail have progressed this matter speedily since they were eventually given responsibility for the project.

We now look forward to new through trains from the Borders to the heart of Edinburgh, which will open up a whole new range of journey opportunities for people in the Borders and for tourists wishing to visit the Borders.

Jim Hume, Lib Dem MSP

The SNP has already wasted time and money in a botched procurement process and until now has been unable to say when the project would be handed over to Network Rail.

It's vitally important that there are no more question marks over the Borders railway line.

The SNP must make up for lost time and stick to its commitment to deliver the railway by 2014, otherwise Borderers will be left feeling short-changed.

Richard Baker, Labour MSP

Whilst any progress is to be welcomed, this is a project that has been heavily delayed, with costs spiralling to £350m and a failed procurement process left behind.

We can only hope that the rest of the construction goes more smoothly, but there are significant lessons to be learned by the SNP from this project.

John Lamont, Conservative MSP

Image caption Mr Lamont said residents were starting to ask questions of the rail project

This is the latest phase of what has so far been a hugely troubled project.

Despite several promises from the SNP the estimated cost of the project has increased again and the deadline for completion has once again been pushed back.

Residents are rightly starting to ask questions of the project, especially as each delay means yet more taxpayers' money being sunk into the railway.

Christine Grahame, SNP MSP

The return of train services between Edinburgh and the central Borders after a gap of over 40 years can only be good for the local economy, for our tourist industry and for the environment in one of the most attractive areas of Scotland.

The announcement by Transport Minister Keith Brown that the capital cost of construction is £60m less than initial estimates should send a strong message to the cynics and sceptics who claimed the Borders Railway would prove to be a costly white elephant.

Alison Johnstone, Green MSP

It is disappointing that the completion date has moved further away and the cost has spiralled.

Network Rail must deliver without delay.

This rail link is vital, particularly given the expansion of Midlothian, with many householders commuting into Edinburgh.

Michael Moore, Lib Dem MP

After a deeply flawed bidding process I am glad that the Scottish government finally came to the conclusion that Network Rail should deliver the Borders railway.

Representing the only constituency on the mainland without any form of rail link, I have long-campaigned for a train line in the Borders and, although the project has experienced delays, I welcome that this agreement has now been reached.

I will continue to work with the Scottish government and local groups to ensure that the Borders railway provides the best possible service to local people and is delivered, as promised, by 2014.

David Spaven, transport writer

Image caption Mr Spaven said towns like Hawick had suffered a "grave injustice" when rail links ended

The closure of the railway through the Borders in 1969 was a grave regional injustice, and probably the worst of all the notorious "Beeching cuts".

It left Galashiels and Hawick further from the rail network than any other towns of their size in Britain.

When the railway reopens to Tweedbank, trains will directly serve three new stations in the Borders and four in Midlothian.

A purpose-built bus-rail interchange at Galashiels and park-and-ride facilities at Tweedbank will ensure that the benefits of the new line extend to a wide swathe of the central Borders, including Hawick, Selkirk and Melrose.

David Birrell, Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce

The improvement of transport connections through the reopening of the Borders Railway is great news.

While there is understandably a lot of focus on the benefits to Borders' communities we cannot overlook the benefits it will bring Edinburgh itself through employment opportunities and enhancing Edinburgh's already strong tourism offer.

Bob Constable, Midlothian Council

Four new stations at Shawfair, Eskbank, Newtongrange and Gorebridge will take Midlothian residents direct to Edinburgh Waverley.

The main line rail service will encourage economic growth and inward investment, increase tourism and open up new opportunities for leisure and education.

And of course, the rail service will offer a real alternative to the car. Personally, I can't wait to buy my first ticket to use the new line.

David Parker, Scottish Borders Council

Today's announcement has been long anticipated in the Borders and the economic benefit that the railway will bring to our region will be significant.

I would like to put on record my thanks to the Scottish government, Transport Scotland and Network Rail for the tremendous work that has been done recently to secure the project's construction and confirm its delivery.

Liz Cameron, Scottish Chambers of Commerce

Image caption Businesses in the Borders hope to feel the benefits of the route reopening

Developing our transport connectivity has the potential to provide a boost to business and to create new opportunities.

That is why the reintroduction of the railway to serve communities across the Scottish Borders is so important.

The railway will make many towns more accessible as they are added to the Scottish rail network, and we have seen in recent years that when a new railway line is opened in Scotland, passenger numbers often exceed estimations.

Catherine Maxwell Stuart, Scottish Borders Tourism Partnership

The tourism industry in the Borders stands to gain enormously from the reopening of the Borders Railway.

The sector is already planning for the coming of the railway to ensure we can maximise the benefits for tourists and visitors to the Borders and continue to grow a sustainable tourism sector.

Mandy Exley, Edinburgh College

The Borders Railway project will make a real impact on the accessibility of our Milton Road and Midlothian campuses.

Students from Edinburgh, Midlothian and the Scottish Borders will be able to access the campuses via rail, as well as through existing public transport routes, helping to create a more sustainable and accessible college for the future.

Graham Bell, Federation of Small Businesses, Scottish Borders branch

The FSB Scottish Borders branch has welcomed the coming of the Borders Railway as a first step in rebuilding the Waverley Line and looks forward to the economic benefits going on to justify the eventual restoration of the line to Carlisle for the benefit of the region and Scotland as a whole.

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