5 March 2008

Green light for Borders rail line

The Borders Rail Project, which will strengthen some of Scotland's poorest rural communities and provide sustainable, integrated and cost effective public transport infrastructure, was given the go ahead today.

Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson updated Parliament on the due diligence exercise that Transport Scotland had carried out on the project and to set out the way forward.

He said:

"The Scottish Government has always been clear that this project must deliver value for money. That is why I stated in June that our continued support for this project would only be possible if the project met three funding conditions set by the previous administration.

"Now that Transport Scotland has completed the due diligence exercise I am happy to announce today that we expect the project to be delivered in 2013 at a cost of between £235-£295 million. I can also announce that a decision has been made to take forward this procurement using a non-profit distributing vehicle.

"The use of NPD models for railways is already well established - for example the financial structure of Network Rail. The details of our final approach will be developed by Transport Scotland in conjunction with the Financial Partnerships Unit and Partnerships UK, having taken full account of market soundings and the need for a competitive procurement process.

"There are many benefits to this project and at its heart is the need to build a dynamic and growing economy that provides prosperity and opportunities for all. The project will also provide for a full range of housing options to the Borders and surrounding regions.

"The railway will also provide a sustainable, integrated and cost effective public transport alternative to the car, connecting people, places and businesses across the Scottish Borders, Midlothian and into Edinburgh. It is estimated that 450,000 tonnes of carbon will be saved over a 60 year period by constructing this railway.

"I believe that this project will bring real benefits to the Scottish Borders communities and I am delighted to outline the plans for the successful delivery of this railway."

The three funding conditions set by the previous administration were:
  • The requirements of the business case including patronage levels, cost and housing growth projections must be met
  • A clear and comprehensive risk management strategy must be developed and delivered
  • The railway must be integrated with the local bus services to ensure the widest impact in the Borders and Midlothian
The project will re-open the 35 mile route between Edinburgh and Galashiels

There will be stations at Shawfair, Eskbank, Newtongrange and Gorebridge(Midlothian), Stow, Galashiels and Tweedbank (Scottish Borders).

There will be half hourly services with a 55 minute journey time from the centre of Edinburgh to Tweedbank.

The project received Royal Assent on July 24, 2006. Since the Act was passed, a number of key items of work have been progressed by the Waverley Rail Partnership, including: Ground Investigation works, Topographical survey works and land acquisition. Work on the outline design also commenced in October 2007.

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