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Borders Railway extension to Carlisle moves step closer

Published on: Monday 30th April 2018

An extension of The Borders Railway to Carlisle - and potential economic boost - is moving closer.

The case to extend the railway from Tweedbank to the city is one of 21 options highlighted in the Borders Transport Corridors Study for further consideration.

It is also a key part of The Borderlands initiative.

Proposals to improve the A7 trunk road from, which connects Carlisle to the Scottish Borders, will also be explored.

A public consultation has been launched - in the latest phase of attempting to realise the long-held ambition - and Simon Walton, chairman of The Campaign for Borders Rail, is urging people on both sides of the border to have their say.

He said: "It's very important. We were delighted that it is in there because that reflects the overwhelming number of stakeholders who were consulted about this.

"The railway extension all the way to Carlisle is the best and most tangible way of fostering economic re-development throughout the whole of the south borders.

"More than that, it is a strategic link to the rest of the network which benefits Carlisle and Cumbria directly, exposing that area to new markets in the north and bringing that new market through Carlisle, it makes Carlisle more viable and indeed a more important strategic hub for a much larger area of the UK.

"It is a two way thing. It opens up new markets for businesses in Cumbria and Carlisle but it does the same thing for communities in the Borders.

"The railways were built in the first instance to improve communications and foster economic development and that's exactly why this railway needs to be build in the 21st century."

While he said it has taken a long time to build up a census of opinion, now he said there is cross party and cross border agreement for the case to extend the railway from Tweedbank.

Mr Walton is urging anyone with an interest to take the opportunity to make sure their voices are heard and get involved with the consultation.

Recommendations from the study will be considered as part of the forthcoming Scotland-wide review of the Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR2).

A draft pre-appraisal report by Jacobs UK Limited highlights how the Borders Railway - initially completed between Edinburgh and Tweedbank in 2015 - success to date strengthened the case for it to be extended to Carlisle.

"The Borders Railway has shown how investment in rail infrastructure can yield benefit for travellers, the environment, the economy and communities," it stated.

Transport Minister Humza Yousaf said: "In our Programme for Government a commitment was given to consider the future transport needs of the Scottish Borders including examining the case for extending the Borders railway along with potential improvements to the A1, A7 and A68.

“This report is an important milestone in delivering that commitment. The Borders Transport Corridors study considered a number of issues including accessibility in the Borders and links between its communities and the key markets of Edinburgh, Carlisle and Newcastle."

The draft study - developed in partnership with Scottish Borders Council and SEStran - has identified options including improved bus services, road and rail infrastructure which will be taken forward for more detailed appraisal in the second Strategic Transport Projects Review.

Members of the public can comment on the 21 options identified in the draft until June 1.

Visit www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/BordersTransportCorridorsStudy_PublicFeedback to take part in the consultation.

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