Calls To Extend Borders Railway

6 September 2016, 09:27 | Updated: 6 September 2016, 09:44

Campaigners are calling for a further extension to the Borders Railway on the first anniversary of its successful reopening.

The Queen officially opened the line, which runs from Edinburgh to Tweedbank, on September 9 last year - the day she became Britain's longest-serving monarch - but trains started carrying passengers on the tracks three days earlier.

Transport bosses set an original target of 650,000 passengers in the first year but demand for the service exceeded expectations with almost 700,000 trips made in the first six months of the line reopening.

The route re-established part of the former Waverley line, which fell victim to the controversial Beeching cuts in 1969, leaving the Borders region without any access to the national rail network.

The near £300 million investment is the longest new domestic railway built in the UK for more than a century and has proved popular with both tourists and commuters.

The Campaign for Borders Rail led calls for the reinstatement of the line and now wants to see work on further enhancement of the existing line to cope with its success and an extension to serve more communities.

Chairman Allan McLean said: "Official studies into the potential for future extension of rail services to bring direct benefits to even more places should be seen as just the beginning of the next stage of railway development in the Scottish Borders.

"I appreciate that it will take time to extend the railway. In the meantime, there is an opportunity to enhance the existing service to make it more reliable.

"Cancellations and delays to the current trains must not hinder future development. In fact, recent experience can inform the future so that lessons are learned to maximise the very real benefits that a reliable train service can bring.

"It would be great to see trains running again between Edinburgh and Carlisle through Hawick for the first time since closure in 1969. It has already proved wonderful to see trains through Galashiels once more.''