FIVE years ago today, the Borders Railway officially opened – with the Queen and Nicola Sturgeon among the special guests.

And the convener of Scottish Borders Council believes the fifth anniversary marks an opportunity to push for an extension of the line to Hawick and Carlisle

David Parker, one of the driving forces behind the Borders Railway, says the £294 million project has been a “tremendous success”.

However, he believes politicians should work together to press for an extension of the line.

Mr Parker, an independent councillor for Leaderdale and Melrose, said: “At the time of the opening ceremony, the momentum behind extending the railway seemed very real.

“Sadly, I am disappointed that, five years on, the feasibility study for the next stage is not yet properly under way and there is no clear commitment to the timescale of the study and what will happen when it reports.

“All politicians need to work together to build a new momentum to make the extension a reality.

“But I fear that with COVID and other transport policies taking priority, an extension may be longer away than anyone would like.

“The original line became a reality because of cross-party political working and a co-ordinated and focused campaign involving a great number of people and organisations.

“It is important to learn the lessons of the original work and breathe fresh impetus into securing an extension.

“There is no reason why the Scottish Government couldn’t commit to carrying out improvements to the existing line such as more double track and the possibility of electrification.

“A concentrated effort should be made to secure improvements and the extension.”

The previous Waverley Line was closed in 1969.

When the Queen visited Tweedbank in 2015, she said: “It has been wonderful to witness the excitement which the return of the railway has brought here.

“The Borders Railway brings so much promise for sharing and invigorating this most beautiful countryside as a place to work, live and enjoy.”