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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 May 2006, 09:29 GMT 10:29 UK
Committee backs Waverley return
Derelict station
All the Borders stations must be introduced if the line re-opens
Plans for a railway line between Edinburgh and the Borders have been backed by MSPs but with a series of conditions attached.

The committee set up to scrutinise the Waverley Railway Scotland Bill given its approval providing a station is built at Stow

MSPs also insist that trains run all the way to Tweedbank.

They concluded that the wider public benefits of the railway outweighed individual environmental concerns.

Their report highlighted the distress caused to householders facing compulsory purchase.

In addition, the committee questioned whether Scottish Borders and Midlothian councils could meet the target levels set for housebuilding.

These levels are seen as vital in maximising passenger uptake and revenue for the railway.

We will amend the bill to ensure that all the Border stations, including Stow, must be constructed
Tricia Marwick MSP

Committee convener Tricia Marwick MSP said they had tried to take all concerns on board.

"This has been a long process for both the committee and objectors to whom we are grateful for the care taken in setting out their concerns," she said.

She added that improvements had been sought on the bill promoter's policy on noise and vibration in order to minimise impact.

"In addition we have introduced a robust code of construction practice and we will amend the bill to ensure this is monitored and enforced," she said.

"We are unanimous that a station must be built at Stow and that the railway must proceed all the way to Tweedbank - it should not terminate at Gorebridge."

Beeching cuts

She said that stations in the Borders were a vital part of the plan.

"We will amend the bill to ensure that all the Border stations, including Stow, must be constructed," she said.

"Put simply, if they aren't there will be no railway."

The route would follow much of the former Waverley railway line which closed in the 1960s, a victim of the Beeching cuts, leaving Midlothian and the Borders as the only parts of Scotland without a rail link.

The cost would be 155m in today's prices and the plan exposed political tensions between the Liberal Democrats, strong in the Borders, and some Labour MSPs less convinced of the need for a Borders link.

It provides for new stations at Shawfair, Eskbank, Newtongrange, Gorebridge, all in Midlothian, and Galashiels and Tweedbank in the Borders.

The report also draws attention to the committee's continuing concerns about the quality of communication between the promoter and objectors.

'Human impact'

Deputy committee convener Christine May MSP said delays had caused too many problems.

"We have been very frustrated at the lack of clarity on whether or not there would be advance or voluntary purchase schemes.

"We have seen the human impact this delay has had on some objectors who have undergone prolonged distress and uncertainty as to whether and, if so when, their homes would be bought out.

"As we say in our report, the Scottish Executive appears to have given little recognition to such people.

"The promoter must improve its dialogue with local residents."

The committee's approval has been welcomed by south of Scotland SNP MSP Christine Grahame.

She was particularly pleased to see the Stow station included in the plans.

Although Ms Grahame did have some concerns about the number of potential obstacles which could still halt the scheme.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Watch details of the committee's decision



SEE ALSO:
Council hits back at rail claims
06 Apr 06 |  Scotland
Route reopening date established
17 Mar 06 |  Scotland
Waverley group pulls out of talks
15 Mar 06 |  Scotland
Green light for Borders rail link
22 Jul 05 |  Scotland


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