Dr Neil Hudson, MP for Penrith and The Border, again publicly pushed for the Borders Railway to be extended south to Carlisle via Longtown in Parliament this week, securing backing from Scotland Minister, John Lamont.
The Cumbrian MP has long fought for the service to be extended from Tweedbank, through the Scottish Borders to rural Cumbria and on to Carlisle. The north of the line was reopened in 2015, due to public pressure from the Campaign for Borders Rail – of which Dr Hudson is an Associate Member.
Since then, the Government allocated £10 million for a feasibility study into extending the line to Carlisle, via stations such as Longtown, Hawick and St Boswells, which is due to get underway imminently. Talks are already taking place and campaigners are increasingly optimistic about the future of the project.
As such, Dr Hudson publicly asked the Minister for an update in the House of Commons during a packed session of Scotland Questions.
Speaking afterwards, Dr Neil Hudson MP for Penrith and The Border, said:
“I thank the Minister for his ongoing support with this vitally important issue for both of our constituencies which straddle the Border region, as well as the wider benefits for the UK. We are seeing progress but, this must progress full steam ahead if we are to properly deliver for the people of both Northern England and Scotland.
“Connectivity challenges, both physical and digital, are some of the biggest barriers to economic, educational and social prosperity to the people of rural Cumbria. I will continue to make this a cornerstone of my work representing the brilliant communities of Penrith and The Border.”
As part of his Better Connectivity campaign, designed at unlocking economic potential, opening up educational and cultural opportunities and diminishing the effects of rural isolation; Dr Hudson has pushed for a range of rail solutions for Cumbria. In January, Dr Hudson spoke at length in a dedicated rail debate, including about the need to extend Borders Railway through Longtown to Carlisle, as well as reopen Gilsland Station and the Penrith to Keswick line.
The exchange in Parliament, during Scotland Questions:
Dr Neil Hudson, MP for Penrith and The Border, asked:
“With regard to rail funding, cross-border rail links, like extending the Borders Railway down to Carlisle, are vital to people and businesses in the North of England and Scotland. Would my Honourable Friend agree that implementation of the Union Connectivity Review recommendations is vital in this regard? And can he give an update on this?”
John Lamont, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Scotland, replied:
“Well, I pay tribute to the Honourable Member for his hard work with the other cross-border MPs, including myself, to deliver the extension of the Borders Railway to Hawick, Newcastleton and onto Carlisle. I was delighted to see the funding for the feasibility study in the Borderlands Growth Deal, and we hope that the work in this study will get underway very, very soon.”