FASTER progress is needed in the project to extend the Borders Railway, according to one of the region’s MSPs.

The UK and Scottish governments agreed to a £10m feasibility study into progressing the line from Tweedbank onto Carlisle, via Hawick, in 2021.

Campaign for Borders Rail chair Marion Short expressed concern earlier this year that the analysis was moving at a “snail’s pace”.

A meeting was held in Galashiels last Thursday with Fiona Hyslop MSP, Scottish Government cabinet secretary for transport, to discuss the extension.

Borders MSP Rachael Hamilton, who attended the gathering, said the project was a “top priority” for the region.

“Extending the railway onto Carlisle has been a top priority for people in the Borders for a long time,” said the Conservative representative of Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire.

“The current line to Tweedbank has been transformational, and it is vital that the Borders Railway is extended to maximise the economic potential of the region in communities like Hawick and Newcastleton.

“It is crucial that the Scottish Government, UK Government and SBC [Scottish Borders Council] continue to work constructively to ensure that the feasibility study is accelerated.

‘The ball is starting to roll in the right direction but local people need to see faster progress to make this extension a reality as soon as possible.”

The former Waverley Line partially reopened between Edinburgh and the central Borders in 2015.

SBC leader Euan Jardine said earlier this year that the local authority and both governments were “absolutely committed to the investment in the necessary feasibility study and business case”.

Ms Hyslop, of the SNP, said Thursday’s meeting provided a “valuable” opportunity to hear views on the upcoming study.

The transport secretary said: “It’s clear from my engagements today that the Borders are benefitting from the Scottish Government’s major investment and delivery of the Borders Railway which demonstrates how transport can be a key driver of inclusive economic growth and can help reduce inequalities, and it is clear that local rail campaign groups want it to go further.”

Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale MSP Christine Grahame, also of the SNP, was at last week’s meeting.

She said: “The railway to Tweedbank has regenerated communities, especially Galashiels, and has demonstrated it is money well-spent.”