The UK government has announced its support for a full feasibility study into extending the Borders Railway to Hawick, Newcastleton and on to Carlisle.
The UK is backing the study as part of the £345m Borderlands Growth Deal, which is jointly funded along with the Scottish Government.
The Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell confirmed the announcement in a follow-up letter to John Lamont, who raised the issue in Westminster this week.
Lamont noted that the feasibility study could begin as early as this year after the heads of terms for the Borderlands Growth Deal are signed off in June.
Lamont said: “We need to improve transport links across the whole of the Borders and extending the Borders Railway is part of this.
“A full feasibility study will look in detail at the costs and benefits of bringing the railway to Hawick, Newcastleton and on to Carlisle. I’d expect this to look at things like impact on businesses, jobs and tourism as well as the implications of getting freight off our roads.
“With the UK Government now publically backing the study, the ball is now very much in the SNP’s court. Back in 2016, the First Minister went to Hawick and promised a feasibility study. It is time to fulfil this promise with some funding and get this campaign properly moving.”
On 6 January 1969, the complete route between Edinburgh and Carlisle was controversially closed, although it had figured in the list of proposed withdrawals in Beeching’s original report in March 1963.
The section between Newcraighall, Galashiels and Tweedbank was rebuilt and later opened in September 2015 following several years of campaigning.