Conservative led Borders Council submitted proposals to the UK Government’s Union Connectivity Review which cut Langholm out of their proposed Border rail extension. It’s a power grab which could undermine the campaign for Langholm to be reconnected to the Borders railway line.

The local Langholm campaign group are angry that their research is being overlooked by the council’s submission which proposes by-passing the town in favour of a route through Newcastleton. They group claim that their research proves the route through Langholm will be cheaper to build and will bring greater financial returns.

SNP MSP Joan McAlpine is backing the group and says the UK Government’s interference is now causing chaos. The South Scotland MSP has now written to the leader of Scottish Borders Council, urging them to reconsider their submission to the review and says their proposals clash with plans being developed by the Langholm & Rail District Group.

Commenting Joan McAlpine says,

“The UK Government’s Union Connectivity Review is a power grab by the UK Government over transport matters which are devolved to the Scottish Parliament. And they’ll be withholding funding from the Scottish Government to spend on projects favoured by Tory politicians in London.

“Extensive work is already being carried out in Scotland as to the best ways to improve connectivity in the South including how best to extend the Borders railway line. The UK Government’s review completely undermines that.

“The Langholm and District Rail Group have carried out far-reaching research that shows that bringing the extension through the town is the most viable option. Their findings show that this would also be cheapest route because the Newcastleton plans would involve restoring collapsed tunnels and bridges.

“Bringing the line through Langholm would help the town to rebuild its economy – the town has suffered greatly due to the closure of its tweed mills in recent years and the relocation of the Edinburgh Woollen Mills HQ to Carlisle thanks to incentives by the city council. The town could also have a bright future as a visitor destination however, and this would be enhanced by a railway link.

“If the extension to the railway line does not stop at Langholm it means none of the investment of this major infrastructure project would benefit Dumfries and Galloway. Given that both Borderlands, and the new South of Scotland Enterprise Agency have a remit to focus on the entire south of Scotland this would be deeply unfair.

“I’ve now written to Borders Council Leader, Shona Haslam, asking her to reconsider the council’s submission to the review and work instead with local partners across the south of Scotland to find the best solution for economic regeneration for the whole region.”