A CROSS-PARTY council working group is set to be formed to drive forward an extension of the Borders Railway from Tweedbank to Hawick and on to Carlisle.

The Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal signed in 2021 committed £10m (£5m each from the UK and Scottish Governments) for the development of proposals for the extension of the rail route.

When members of Scottish Borders Council met on Thursday they were informed that some of the allocated funding would be used to appoint a senior project manager, at the cost of £200k, to lead the extension bid.

A job description and funding request to cover the costs of the new role has already been submitted to UK and Scottish Governments.

Additionally, cross-political support for the extension bid is seen as essential to its success – as it was to the reopening of Borders Railway in 2015.

In a report to the committee, Sam Smith, the council’s chief officer for economic development, says: “To support this work moving forward, and based on the previous governance model which oversaw the first phase of the Borders Railway feasibility work and business case development to successful completion, it is proposed to set up an internal cross-party Working Group to oversee this work.

“It is proposed that the membership of this working group includes representatives of each of the political groups of the council, to ensure there is full visibility and oversight of this complex and high-profile project.

“It is proposed that the cross-party Working Group is made up of four members of the ruling administration and three members of the opposition (two SNP and one Liberal Democrat).

“The group will be chaired by the executive member for community and business development. The cross-party working group will feed into the Reference Group, and the Borderlands Partnership Board.”

Members at next week’s meeting will be recommended to approve the formation of the new working group.

The Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal brings £450m of fresh investment into the region, with an integrated programme to help people, places, and businesses fulfil their potential.