Full steam ahead for Borders businesses

First anniversary of transport link signals boost for trade

By Jack Walsh

OPERATORS in the Scottish Borders say they’ve experienced a boost in trade since the reopening of the Borders Railway a year ago.

• On track: ScotRail Alliance MD Phil Verster (left) and transport minister Humza Yousaf.
• On track: ScotRail Alliance MD Phil Verster (left) and transport minister Humza Yousaf.

The move re-established services from Edinburgh through Midlothian to Galashiels and Tweedbank for the first time in over four decades.
And it’s this reconnection with the capital that operators reckon has been pivotal to the uplift in trade.
Michelle Douglas, co-owner of The Salmon Inn in Galashiels, said the rail link has had a “positive effect” on business.
“It’s had quite a big impact on us; we’ve seen trade going up, new faces, people coming into the town,” she said.
“You can certainly tell when a train arrives at lunch time, or dinner time.”
Sylvia Scott, who owns Quins restaurant in Galashiels, agreed that the railway has “been very good for Galashiels”.
“We have a very limited population in the Borders; it’s quite sparsely populated,” she said. “[Now] people can come down here, it’s probably cheaper for them to go around the pubs, and it’s probably more homely.”
And some businesses have been opened as a result of the railway.
Will Hageland, owner of The Grapevine, said: “We wouldn’t have opened on this site, just opposite the transport interchange in Galashiels, [otherwise].
“And we can indeed [see the benefit], we can see that the railway does provide us with trade.
“We have quite a lot of people who said before that they would go up to Edinburgh, meet up with friends and go out in George Street. Now they equally get their Edinburgh friends to come down here, and then they go out here instead.”
Demand on the railway line continues to be high, with over a million passenger journeys having been made in the first year – and plans to introduce longer trains on more services from 2018.
Transport minister Humza Yousaf said the railway has “breathed new life into the region, boosting tourism and employment opportunities”.