South Scotland

Borders Railway extension 'death knell' motion defeated

Borders Railway Image copyright Kenny Lam

A bid to raise concerns about a funding "death knell" for extending the Borders Railway has been defeated.

Hawick independent councillor David Paterson had tabled a motion after the Scottish government claimed a national shortfall of about £600m.

He was concerned about the potential impact on rail improvements in the region like reopening Reston station.

However, his motion was voted down by councillors amid claims of "playing politics" with the issue.

Mr Paterson - who is not part of the Conservative/Independent council administration - wanted the local authority to write to the UK government expressing its concerns about the funding situation.

He said it could end hopes of extending the Borders Railway and have a "detrimental effect" on improvements on the line.

SNP councillor Stuart Bell said he shared some of those concerns as well as the potential impact on efforts to reopen Reston station.

Potential threat

"It is important for Borderers to be reassured that this is funding for the maintenance and improvement of the rail network - this isn't funding for running the trains," he said.

"Therefore the reduction in funding isn't going to directly affect the services that we have.

"But the reduction in funding potentially threatens the funding for improvements such as Reston station or the Borders Railway."

Economic development spokesman, Conservative Mark Rowley, said that was "playing politics" and that Reston and extension of the Borders Railway were not linked.

He said they wanted Transport Minister Humza Yousaf to offer reassurance about the reopening project.

"The important thing is to deliver the station at Reston as soon as possible," he said.

"We have simply asked the transport minister to reconfirm his unwavering - and that is the term he used - commitment to delivering Reston as early as possible between 2019 and 2024."

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