Include Langholm in future railway plans says MSP

Langholm must be included in any future plans to extend the Waverley Line, a South of Scotland MSP has said.

The historic borders railway was opened last week by Her Majesty the Queen and has been greeted with great enthusiasm.

The Scottish Government, which funded the line, has now said it is “committed” to helping extend it south of its current terminus at Tweedbank, right down to Carlisle at some point in the future.

SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has written to Keith Brown, Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, asking that Langholm is included in any feasibility studies to extend the line in future.

When the Waverley Line from Edinburgh was constructed in the 19th century, Langholm was included in proposals for an extension of the main line beyond Hawick to Carlisle. After legal wrangles the reached The House of Lords, Langholm and Canonbie had to settle for a branch line in 1864. It operated for a century before being axed in the Beeching cuts of the 1960s.

“It's a long way off and a huge expense, but it is significant that the Scottish Government has signalled their interest, in principle, of extending the line in future if funding could be found. Langholm must be part of any conversation. The best way to do that is a statement of intent right now.

Ms McAlpine said the re-opening of the railway line would reap huge rewards for the town.

“Not only could it help residents commute to and from the town, but it would make it more accessible for tourists – we all know how fantastic the cultural offering is in the area and I have no doubt that an accessible rail link would attract people from far and wide.”

She added:

“The station in Langholm has great cultural significance as part of the Common Riding Festival, where every year on the Thursday night the town pipe and flute bands meet the "last train" from Edinburgh.

“This tradition has continued, despite the fact that there have been no passengers arriving at the station since 1964.

“It would be a momentous occasion to see the station re-opened, and to be able to welcome passengers from the last train once again.”

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