The extension of the Borders Railway to Carlisle has been recommended as the “best solution” to address transport connectivity issues in the region, following the release of a new prospectus by a cross-border partnership of councils.
Borderlands Partnership, which consists of councils from both sides of the England-Scotland border, backed the extension to the route, which opened in 2015.
Currently, the Borders Railway runs from Edinburgh to Tweedbank.
The recommendation from the partnership – who include local authorities for Dumfries and Galloway, Scottish Borders, Cumbria, Northumberland, and Carlisle – to extend the line will form the basis for future talks with the UK and Scottish governments.
While recommending the extension of the line, the report did not outline where any stations on the extended route should be located.
Edinburgh and Carlisle were identified as key economic centres for people in the region but remained largely inaccessible to many communities through public transport.
This led to car ownership levels in places such as Melrose, St Boswells, and Longtown which were higher than the national average, reducing the impact of climate mitigation efforts in the region.
Cllr Elaine Murray, Leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council and Borderlands Partnership Co-Chair, said: “The Borders Railway offers the opportunity to build on the success of the initial phase, which re-established a rail line between Edinburgh and Tweedbank.
"The usage of the initial phase of the Borders Railway line extension has exceeded the forecast of the business case by up to a factor of ten. In practice, the benefits have been much higher, and particularly at the local level where evidence points towards substantial impacts on the delivery of economic and social benefits.”
“The Borderlands Partnership was successful in making a strong case work to consider the extension of the Borders Railway across the border to Carlisle in the Deal. The Prospectus provides information that builds a strong foundation for taking forward the study and shows its importance for the overall Deal."
Cllr Stewart Young, Leader of Cumbria County Council and Borderlands Partnership Co-Chair, added: “The extension of the Borders Railway offers the opportunity to build on the success of the re-establishment of a rail line between Edinburgh and Tweedbank, as well as capitalise on the nationally significant infrastructure investment from HS2 and the proposed modification of rail infrastructure at Carlisle to allow high speed trains to call at the station.”