STPR2: Borderers ‘ignored’ in transport review, says Tory MP

A RECENT transport report by the Scottish Government has been branded “an enormous let down” by a Borders MP.

The second Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR2) – which will “inform investment priorities” from 2022 to 2042 – was released on Thursday.

However, the report has been criticised for failing to directly mention an extension to the Borders Railway.

John Lamont, Conservative MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk, said: “The review was a golden opportunity for the Scottish Government to get behind the transport infrastructure upgrades that the Scottish Borders and many other parts of Scotland desperately need.

READ MORE: Borders motorist who admitted 2 counts of careless driving is banned from road

“Borderers have, yet again, been ignored. Whilst this is hardly surprising, it is a real blow to all those who have campaigned tirelessly for the Borders Railway extension, and upgrades to our road network.”

Scottish Borders Council (SBC) leader Mark Rowley, also of the Conservatives, said: “It is hugely disappointing that Transport Scotland don’t recognise the huge success of the first phase of the Borders Railway and actively push for the connection onwards to Carlisle which would be transformational for the Borders and wider Borderlands.”

The Mid Berwickshire councillor added: “We’ll continue to push on with the feasibility study that was agreed in the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal by five local authorities and both UK and Scottish Governments.”

In the Borders, STPR2 recommends that Transport Scotland continues to work closely with the UK Government on cross-border routes.

It also advises a “review of rail freight terminals/ hubs to confirm how to meet long-term mode shift requirements”.

READ MORE: Here’s how much it could cost to charge your electric vehicle in the Borders

For Edinburgh and the south east of Scotland, the report adds that Transport Scotland should work with regional partners “to develop and enhance the cross-boundary public transport system” for the region.

The Borders Partnership Board has responded more positively to the report, welcoming the government’s “commitment to the feasibility activity for the continuation of the Borders Railway from Tweedbank to Carlisle”.

Elaine Murray, leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council and Borderlands Partnership co-chair, said: “Whilst we welcome the inclusion of the Borders Railway extension in the findings of STPR 2, we do believe that this should be considered a national priority due to its potential benefits, and we will continue to make that case strongly to both governments as we take the next steps towards a feasibility study.”

The partnership consists of councils in the Borders, Carlisle, Cumbria, Dumfries and Galloway, and Northumberland.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “STPR2 considers the transport needs of Scotland’s people and communities, and examines active travel, bus, ferry, rail and motorways and trunk roads as well as passenger and freight access to major ports and airports.

“These needs are reviewed from national and regional perspectives to reflect their different geographies, travel patterns and demands. STPR2 provides an overview of transport investment, mainly infrastructure and other behavioural change recommendations, that are required to deliver the National Transport Strategy priorities and objectives of the review.”

Border Telegraph | News