AN EXTENSION of the Borders railway to Hawick and on to Carlisle has moved further down the track.

A coalition representing councils, campaigners and the Scottish Government has met to discuss progress with the £10m feasibility study to extend the iconic rail route.

Last week the Borders Railway Reference Group met virtually to consider the steps needed and scope of the project, which aims to restore the railway line between Carlisle and the Borders, connecting to the current Borders Railway terminus at Tweedbank.

This was an important stage in the project and essential to the next step, which is to appoint a senior project manager to finalise the detailed plan and drive the feasibility study.

The study is being funded as part of the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal with Scottish Borders Council (SBC) as the lead authority.

The project is creating the evidence base needed for the business case to help complete the missing link of the former Waverley Line, which partially reopened between Edinburgh and the central Borders in 2015.

It will outline the strategic, economic, commercial, financial and management reasons to potentially help support rebuilding the full railway.

That business case is what the UK and Scottish governments will need to release the funding for any future work to commence.

Galashiels councillor Euan Jardine, leader of SBC and a Borderlands Partnership board member, said: “I am delighted we have agreed the next steps to making the case for extending the Borderlands Railway from Scotland into England.

“The reopening of the line as far as Tweedbank has had a transformative impact on economic growth within the Borders and we must continue to push for the extension to Hawick and on to Carlisle.

“Working as a partnership is our best chance at connecting communities further down the line to share the benefits and opportunities the railway could bring.”

The Reference Group is chaired by SBC and includes representatives from the Campaign for Borders Rail, Transport Scotland, Scottish Government, Department for Transport, Dumfries and Galloway Council, Cumberland Council and the Borderlands Partnership.