Meeting at Holyrood with Langholm Rail Campaigners and Transport Secretary
Joan McAlpine MSP has welcomed reassurances from the Scottish Government’s Transport Secretary that Langholm’s case will be considered in a study on extending the borders railway to Carlisle.
The South of Scotland MSP arranged a meeting with the Cabinet Secretary Michael Matheson and Langholm Railway campaigners at Holyrood this week. The campaigners sought reassurance that Langholm’s case would be given due weight in the full appraisal of proposals to extend the line which will be undertaken early next year.
Campaigners Denis Male, Andrew Scott, and Ian Royall told the Minister that it would be technically easier and cheaper to run the line through Langholm, which would increase the chances of an extension to Carlisle being built.
Ms. McAlpine pointed out that the major job losses in Langholm in recent years meant the case for a railway line to help tourism and economic regeneration was compelling. The Minister explained that any decision to extend the Borders Railway would be part of a process identifying National Priorities for Scotland. He pointed out, however, that the Department of Transport in London had not yet committed the UK Government to look at extending the section of the line south of the border to Carlisle.
The meeting was also attended by Dumfries & Galloway councillor John Campbell, who is a member of the Swestrans Committee.
Commenting, Joan McAlpine said:
“‘The minister was made aware that there was a strong Lobby supporting the extension of the line from Tweedbank to Carlisle that wanted to see the old Waverley line through Newcastleton reinstated. This would exclude Langholm as an option. I was really pleased that Mr. Matheson committed the Government to a fair examination of the case for both Langholm and Newcastleton.
“He told his officials to make sure that ‘Langholm and District Rail Group’ were kept informed about future plans and any technical information they need to make the case.
“He also praised the work they had undertaken in making a case for reconnecting the town. The meeting was very timely, because they were also able to tell the Minister about the Langholm Action Plan which will be launched later this month.
“I was disappointed, however, to hear that the UK Government has not yet committed to appraise the proposals to extend that part of the line that they control. That’s disappointing when you look at the amount of work the Scottish Government has done on this end.”
Denis Male of Langholm and District Rail Group said:
“We had an excellent meeting with the Minister. He gave us an accurate appraisal of the situation and assured us that the line through Langholm and Eskdale would be part of the consideration. He also said that as well as the line from Tweedbank to Carlisle there was consideration being given to the Tweedbank Berwick link. I would like thank MSP Joan McAlpine for setting up the meeting”.
Picture of Joan McAlpine with campaigners and Cabinet Secretary Michael Matheson in Holyrood attached