Extension of Borders Railway 'more important than ever'

Those behind the campaign for an extension of the Borders Railway say they believe their ambitions are now more important than ever.

The chair of the project says extending the line to Hawick, Newcastleton and Carlisle will bring a much needed boost to local economies, which have taken a hit during lockdown.

Simon Walton, from Campaign for Borders Rail, said: "We need to seek ways of revitalising our economy and that's why I believe building the railway now is more important than it ever has been.

"It fulfils so many things we need going forward to make the economy, the community, to make commerce and indeed the environment more sustainable.

Credit: ITV News

Scotrail say that daily passenger numbers on the Borders railway have been consistently down by more than 85% per cent throughout coronavirus lockdown.

A typical weekday pre-lockdown would see around 4,500 customers use the service. Now, that figure is down to around 600 to 700 passengers a day.

Credit: ITV News

The Scottish government have been advising people against using public transport for the time being, and more people have been home working and organising virtual meetings -- but campaigners don't think this current change of lifestyle will hamper their case.

Mr Walton said: "We certainly do need the railways and the railway network in general as an environmentally sustainable way of getting about of communicating in the future.

"I don't have any concerns that any change in lifestyle any change in the way we work will make any difference to a new Borders railway."

A full feasibility study looking at the costs and benefits of bringing the railway to Hawick, Newcastleton and on to Carlisle has been commissioned but hasn't yet began.