A REDUCTION of £600m in funding for Scotland’s railway infrastructure between 2019 and 2024 could sound the “death knell” for plans to extend the Borders Railway south of Tweedbank.

And the proposed £10.5m reopening of Reston station in Berwickshire could also be threatened.

These were the claims last week from Councillor David Paterson (Ind) as he attempted to convince the Tory-led administration at Scottish Borders Council to press the party’s UK Government for a better funding deal for Scotland’s railways.

But, despite gaining support from the SNP and Lib Dem opposition groups at Newtown, his motion was defeated by 17 votes to 12.

It follows last month’s announcement by Scottish transport minister Humza Yousaf that the rail infrastructure funding settlement which Holyrood receives from Westminster will be cut from £4.2b to £3.6b in the five years from 2019.

Since 2005, the Scottish Government has received a fixed rate of 11.7% of all Network Rail expenditure on railways in the UK.

But in July, the UK Treasury announced the funding would instead be distributed using a population-based version of the Barnet formula between 2019 and 2024.

“The UK government has departed from our agreed formula, leaving Scotland’s railways £600m short,” said Mr Yousaf in a letter to all opposition parties at Holyrood.

“It is of critical importance to Scotland’s communities and businesses that we secure a fair financial settlement, which enables the Scottish rail industry to plan for the future with certainty.”

There has since been speculation that the reduction will force the rescheduling of several earmarked projects and the shelving of others, including the re-opening of Reston station on the East Coast Main Line.

Councillor Paterson’s motion last week called for SBC leader Shona Haslam (Con) to write to the UK Government expressing concerns over the funding cut.

“There are real concerns this may sound the death knell for any plans to extend the Borders Railway to Hawick and then onto Carlisle via Newcastleton and that this move by the UK Government may also have a detrimental affect of future rail improvements to the Borders Railway,” stated the motion. “It could also threaten plans to reopen Reston station.”

But Councillor Mark Rowley (Con), executive member for economic development, tabled an amendment involving no such approach.

Instead, he called on Ms Haslam to write to Mr Yousaf, asking him to reaffirm his “unwavering” commitment to the re-opening of Reston station – to which SBC has allocated £2.84m in its capital programme - as early as possible within the 2019-24 control period.

The successful amendment went on: “We reaffirm that this council has the strongest possible commitment to ensure to ensuring the economic and social benefits of the Borders Railway are extended through to Hawick, Newcastleton and Carlisle.”

After the meeting, Councillor Stuart Bell, leader of the SNP group at Newtown, told the Border Telegraph: “It is hypocritical of the Conservative-led administration of the council to call for support for the Borders Railway and Reston station and then sit idly by where there is a clear threat to their funding as a result of arbitrary decisions by a Conservative UK Government.

“It is insincere of them not to protest against this.”