Tourist boost for Midlothian on track

Borders railway on course for completion as main track-laying begins.' Shawfair Station.
Borders railway on course for completion as main track-laying begins.' Shawfair Station.

Midlothian Council has outlined its plans to capitalise on the opening of the Borders Railway to boost tourism and improve transport links.

In the run-up to the opening of the line next September sub-committees have been set-up at the council to focus on individual aspects of the railway’s return, such as the opening ceremony, as well as the potential benefit to tourism and business.

Signposts at the new Midlothian stations at Shawfair, Eskbank, Newtongrange and Gorebridge will highlight tourist attractions such as Dalkeith Country Park and the National Mining Museum.

Speaking at last week’s council meeting, Midlothian Council chief executive Kenneth Lawrie welcomed the council report into the potential benefits of the Borders Railway to Midlothian and how they can be achieved.

He said: “I think it’s important that we maximise the benefit to the communities of Midlothian. The proposals in the report are absolutely in line with that.”

Council officers revealed that discussions have already been held with Lothian Buses about services from the four stations in Midlothian in a bid to improve transport links across the county.

Green councillor Ian Baxter was keen to see the railway integrated with cycle routes to encourage visitors to Midlothian and commuters to cycle to stations.

He said: “There is no mention of encouraging cyclists to Midlothian. And also encouraging people here to cycle to stations to get the train.

“If you go to the Netherlands they have multi-storey cycle racks at stations.

“When I asked about something similar here I was told we might get a bus shelter.

“I would like to see something that is waterproof and lockable, so people can have confidence that they can use their bike.”

Council officer John Blair said he had no definitive answers regarding Councillor’s Baxter’s queries as the franchisee for the line has recently changed to Dutch firm Abellio, but insisted he will take them to Transport Scotland.