Midlothian Council has agreed to invest £450,000 in maximising the economic opportunities of the Borders Railway.
At a full council meeting on Tuesday, councillors approved the additional spend on top of the £300,000 previously agreed in 2014 and 2015 on Borders Railway promotional activities.
Council Leader Councillor Catherine Johnstone said: “More than a million passenger journeys have been made on the line since it opened in September 2015. That’s a fantastic achievement and we need to make sure we are in as strong a position as possible to make sure Midlothian and the railway corridor are great places in which to live and learn, visit and work.
“A £10 million Scottish Government fund has been set up, managed by our Blueprint partners comprising the Scottish Government, Transport Scotland, VisitScotland, Abellio ScotRail and the three local authorities, including ourselves. However, to access pockets of that money, we need to match funds.”
The council heard that £150,000 will come from the General Fund Reserve to pay for the council’s contribution to a comprehensive assessment of areas along the line to establish co-ordinated commercial expansion and development opportunities. A total of £50,000 of council reserves will be for ongoing project development work.
A further £250,000 will also come from the General Services Capital Plan for the council’s contribution to various other Borders Railway related projects such as Gorebridge town centre improvements and various tourism and economic development projects. The council heard that 12 projects were being explored but these are dependent on external funding as well as council resources.
Previous successful Blueprint partnership work includes a tourism audit and a tourism business development programme to create quality products and services linked to the line.
Councillor Johnstone added that the first year of the railway has not been without its challenges. However, she is confident that Transport Scotland and Abellio ScotRail are working together to increase capacity on the trains, refurbish rolling stock and improve performance.