South Scotland

Borders Railway extension to Carlisle 'moving closer'

Train in station Image copyright Dougie Johnston
Image caption Campaigners were told the line to Tweedbank was only "phase one" of their ambitions

Campaigners aiming to extend the Borders Railway to Carlisle have been told their goal is "moving closer".

The Campaign for Borders Rail (CBR) was told by MSP Christine Grahame at its AGM that its case for extending the line to Cumbria was "rock solid".

Chairman Simon Walton urged supporters to "raise their game" to keep up pressure for the scheme.

The developing Borderlands Growth Deal includes a study to look at extending the line to Carlisle.

The CBR has been running for 20 years but its chairman said the opening of the route from Edinburgh to Tweedbank was only a partial success.

'Next goal'

"I have always regarded the existing Borders Railway as phase one of our ambition for the Borders," he said.

"Getting commitment to build the remainder has to be our next goal, and we're moving closer to that every day."

Mr Walton said the political climate had "moved significantly" in favour of "environmentally sustainable economic development".

"That means railway projects like the completion of the Borders Railway make even more sense as a means of rejuvenating communities at the same time as greening the environment," he said.

Encouraged communities

Ms Grahame described the route as the "people's railway" and said support for its reinstatement to Carlisle dated back nearly 20 years.

She accepted there had been problems on the reopened line but said many had been resolved with passenger journeys exceeding projections.

"It has encouraged other communities to campaign for reinstatement of rail links lost to them in the years of the Beeching cuts when the rail network in Scotland was decimated," she said.

"Its success has shown that the case for the extension into the UK network and on to the European rail network is rock solid."

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