THE Conservatives have committed to spending £5million for the evaluation of proposals to extend the borders railway line to Carlisle.

In the manifesto launch on Tuesday, June 11, the Conservative party outlined their plan for Britain over the next five years which also included funding for the improvement of the Energy Coast railway line between Carlisle and Barrow.

The Borders Railway Reference Group aims to restore the railway line between Carlisle and the Scottish Borders, connecting to the current Borders Railway terminus at Tweedbank.

A £10million feasibility was discussed in 2023 and the Tories have now committed to providing funding if they should win the next election.

The study is being funded as part of the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal, with Scottish Borders Council as the lead authority. 

The project is 'creating the evidence base needed' for the business case to help complete the missing link of the former Waverley Line, which partially reopened between Edinburgh and the central Borders in 2015. 

It will outline the strategic, economic, commercial, financial and management reasons to potentially help support rebuilding the full railway.

A report from 2021 from the Borderlands Partnership, which is made up of the local authorities for Dumfries and Galloway, Scottish Borders, Northumberland, and Cumbria, said that extending the Borders Railway to Carlisle would be the ‘best solution’ to help solve the area’s notorious transport connection difficulties.

The report said that many places along the route, including Longtown in Cumbria, had higher car ownership than the national average which they blamed on public transport issues.

Extending the Borders Railway is seen as a potential solution to that, the prospectus said, although project development work would need to start now in order to deliver within the next 10 to 20 years.

The manifesto also reiterated the Conservatives pledge to upgrade the Energy Coast line, as announced by the Prime Minister in his party conference speech last year.

The Energy Coast Rail upgrade would see more space for freight and passenger trains and improve the reliability of the line more broadly.

The Conservatives have argued that both are essential to support inward investment and to meet the needs of businesses and communities along the length of the line and the wider rail network.

Labour are set to launch their manifesto on Wednesday, June 12.