Jim Hume MSP has released the following statement ahead of tomorrow’s official opening of the Borders rail link.
Mr Hume will be taking the steam train from Edinburgh to Tweedbank and will be attending the official ceremony.
Mr Hume said:
“Without doubt, the Borders railway project is a key achievement of Liberal Democrats in coalition at Holyrood. Indeed, the business case for it was skilfully negotiated by the Liberal Democrat team as part of the 1999 Lib Dem-Labour coalition in Holyrood after the first Scottish Parliament elections.
“This was not a project Labour would have ordinarily been interested in had it not been for those on the Lib Dem benches pressing for its inclusion in the coalition’s priorities.
“And this week, we finally saw its momentous return to the region. This is a historic moment for the Borders. It opens up so many opportunities for communities and reverses those very damaging Beeching cuts.
“But Liberal Democrats have always said that the rail link should continue on beyond Tweedbank to Hawick and eventually further on to join up with Carlisle, a view this week supported by the leaders of both Scottish Borders and Carlisle City Councils.
“The Scottish Government has so far been cagey about taking forward a feasibility study. Ministers have hinted at the potential benefits of an extension, but have in reality adopted a wait and see approach. The truth is that the economic benefits are obvious, and the time is right for Ministers to commit to this vital next step.
“The Scottish Government must now acknowledge that the link to Tweedbank is the building block for further progress on an extension to Carlisle, and I want Ministers to work with together stakeholders and get the timetable for a feasibility study underway.”