3 March 2010

Borders Railway on track

Work was officially begun on the Borders Railway today, triggering the Act of Parliament which states that once work is under way the line must be completed in its entirety from Edinburgh to Tweedbank.

Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson said:

"The Scottish Government has made clear its commitment to the Borders Railway as a key part of our programme of investment - we are now delivering on that commitment.

"Today the Scottish Government sets out the actions being taken across the public sector to position Scotland's economy for recovery and boost the long term performance of our economy. Part of that strategy is delivering major transport programmes like the Borders Railway.

"It is therefore fitting that work now starts on a project which will provide a fast, efficient rail link connecting communities from the Scottish Borders to Midlothian and Edinburgh. When finished, the railway will act as a catalyst for economic growth right across southern Scotland, supporting hundreds of jobs during its construction. It will also increase business development and housing opportunities across the region, whilst helping promote inward investment.

"Today the Scottish Government has made clear its commitment to a strong economic recovery. Equally clear is the Government's commitment to delivering this major railway investment programme for people throughout Midlothian and the Scottish Borders which will not only support Scotland's long term economic recovery, but open up those regions to rail passengers again for the first time in over 40 years."

Initial indications of interest in the main contract for the construction of the Borders Railway are due to be submitted this month and a shortlist of companies drawn up to participate in a tender competition with work scheduled to begin in 2011 for completion in 2014.

David Parker, Leader of Scottish Borders Council, said:

"I am absolutely delighted with the progress being made to deliver the Borders railway. Today's announcement is the most significant step forward and everyone can now look forward with confidence to the railway's delivery. The triggering of the Bill is a significant commitment by the Scottish Government to this project and there can be no doubt that today represents the beginning of the actual physical delivery of the line. Many Borderers will be delighted with what has taken place today and our long wait for rail services is coming to an end."

A number of preparatory works - essential to the delivery of the railway, but not covered by the authority of the Act - have already been undertaken in 2009 and are continuing throughout 2010 and 2011, following Scottish Ministers' decision to accelerate funding at the end of 2008.

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