Extending the Borders railway to Carlisle will be one of the options considered by a new study looking at improving transport provision in the south of Scotland.
The economies of the Scottish Borders and Midlothian have received a major boost since the introduction of the Borders Railway from Edinburgh to Tweedbank near Melrose — but many were disappointed the railway was not extended through Hawick and other Borders towns to Carlisle.
The service has been hugely successful, with more than one million passenger journeys in its first year of operation.
However, critics have said the reliability of the service has to improve and serious plans should be made to extend the service to Carlisle via Hawick.
Transport Scotland said it intends to award the contract for the study to Jacobs UK Ltd.
“Subject to completion of the mandatory standstill period, the study will start later this month and is expected to take around seven months to complete,” said Transport Scotland.
Transport Minister Humza Yousaf said: “In the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government a commitment was given to examine the case for an extension of the Borders railway along with improvements to the A1, A7 and A68.
“This study will take forward that commitment by considering how we improve accessibility in the Borders, link communities to key markets through strategic transport routes and identify where improvements to transport links are required.
“We want to build on the existing Borders railway by considering whether it should be extended to Carlisle.
“The study will also look at how we improve access from the Scottish Borders to key markets in to Edinburgh, Carlisle and Newcastle.
“Working with partners in Scottish Borders Council and SEStran, Transport Scotland will identify a range of options for improving transport that can be considered as part of the review of the Strategic Transport Projects Review which will look at future transport infrastructure projects for the whole of Scotland.
“These options could include new rail services, improvements to existing road infrastructure and improved public transport provision.”