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SNP pledges to extend Borders Railway

Words: Laura Edgar

Scottish National Party (SNP) leader Nicola Sturgeon has vowed to conduct a feasibility study into extending the Borders Railway if re-elected in May.

Sturgeon made her pledge while visiting Hawick as part of the SNP campaign for the Scottish election.

The Borders Railway, which cost around £353 million, opened last year, running from Edinburgh to Tweedbank.

Sturgeon said that if the SNP is re-elected to government it would look into the possibility of extending the line past Tweedbank to Carlisle.

Sturgeon cited the number of passengers using the route, “over half a million since January", as “exceeding all expectations”, with the railway “boosting the economy, leading to new house building and supporting tourism in the region”.

“With this kind of success it makes sense to look at extending the line to other communities. I know there is support across the Borders for extending the line to Carlisle and, if re-elected, we will take the first step on that journey,” she said.

Speaking to the BBC, Jim Hume, who is representing the Liberal Democrats in the Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire seat, said the party “paved the way” for the line in 2006, when part of a coalition government in Holyrood.

The key to a feasibility study should start with the cooperation of stakeholders “as soon as possible”, he said. 

Labour, Conservative and the Scottish Green Party also support the principle of looking at an extension to the route.

The election will take place on 5 May, 2016.

Image credit | National Rail