The Campaign for Borders Rail has welcomed the opportunity to consider the Union Connectivity Review as published today by the Department for Transport. We do express some disappointment that the Review does not directly reference the wider strategic benefits of completing the Borders Railway through Hawick to Carlisle, thereby providing a much-needed cross-border link, helping to address existing capacity constraints and anticipated future demand for environmentally sustainable passenger and freight flows.
The report recognises that communities in the Scottish Borders region are enthusiastic about the economic and social benefits resulting from an extension of the Borders Railway south, across the border, to Carlisle. The Review also welcomes the £5 million in funding that the UK Government has made available for the development of an extension to the Borders Railway which would support improved connections between Scotland, the North of England and beyond via the West Coast Main Line at Carlisle.
It should be noted that the Scottish Government has also committed £5 million to the project, and that the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal – a cross-border coalition of local authorities has also recommended extension of the Borders Railway.
We welcome the recommendation to take a more strategic approach to planning cross-border transport provision across the UK. We would like to have seen at this stage some recognition of the role an extended Borders Railway could play in delivering more capacity on the West Coast Corridor between Carlisle and Edinburgh. We hope that this can be examined in more detail as the UKNET proposals recommended in the report are developed.
The publication of the Review, despite its limitations, demonstrates the importance of the work of the Campaign for Borders Rail in bringing to the agenda the issue of completion of the Borders Railway, through Hawick and on to Carlisle. In the light of this Review, the Campaign urges both the community and commerce to redouble their support of the Campaign and lobby for extension at every opportunity.
For further contact CBR spokesperson Simon Walton on 07540 313018