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Not long after The Scottish Parliament re-opened I watched a members debate discussing the merits of building  a rail line to the Scottish Borders from Edinburgh. I had just started working for BBC Scotland as a researcher in their parliamentary unit and part of my jobs was to monitor these debates.

Members debates are held on a Wednesday and Thursday afternoon and allow any MSPs who’s topic  is selected to have a debate where a government minister must respond.

They’re not particularly well attended and sometimes the issue being debated can be a bit of a bore. But the debate on the borders rail line stood out for me because of the passion from all political parties and the enthusiasm that the project  be considered.

lawyers in the scottish bordersIt struck me at the time that for such a large part of Scotland not to have a rail line was ridiculous and if ever there was an issue for Holyrood to address it was this. I recall the then labour MSP Karen Gillon and the SNP MSP Christine Graham talking about how fondly the Waverly Line was remembered by older Borderers and what a tragedy it was that it fell to the Beeching cuts. The loss of the line contributed to the sense that the Borders were isolated and were being left behind.

Well 15 years on and the line is officially opened today by the Queen. The line is already being credited with an upsurge in the local economy and of course the expected rise in house prices. But I think the most important thing about the re-opening of the Waverly Line is that it’s a great example of what our Scottish Parliament can achieve.

Everyone likes to take a pop at politicians and not without just cause but here is a project which was supported by all political parties in Scotland and was made possible by Holyrood. I have little doubt that did Holyrood not exist the mandarins in the Department of Transport in Whitehall would not have considered building such a line for a second.

So when her majesty officially opens this new wonderful railway line today spare a thought for the politicians from all parties that helped make this happen and perhaps feel a little pride that our parliament in Edinburgh really can do positive things.

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