One of the most pressing issues facing Borders residents is the lack of access to reliable and efficient public transport.
I am regularly contacted by local people who believe, as I do, that we must improve the local transport infrastructure and especially the availability of rail services for many communities.
I have been working hard alongside local campaign groups to achieve a better rail service for the Borders.
Of all the improvements that could be made, I believe the biggest economic benefits in terms of jobs and business growth would come from extending the Borders Railway to Hawick, Newcastleton and onto Carlisle. That extension has the potential to bring enormous benefits to local communities across the area.
The Borders Railway, as you know, has been a tremendous success since it was reopened in 2015, connecting our towns and villages to Edinburgh and the wider rail network. It has boosted tourism, encouraged investment, and made it easier for people to commute to work and access essential services.
But I think it would be a mistake to settle for what we have now, when more benefits would flow to our local area if we achieve that addition of the service onto Hawick, Newcastleton and Carlisle.
Many places in the Borders have been held back by subpar transport links. The lack of rail connections often makes it difficult for people to travel around cheaply and easily.
By extending the Borders Railway to Hawick, we can address these issues and unlock the full potential of the area. The benefits are clear. Businesses will be better connected to markets and customers, residents will have easier access to services, and tourists will be able to explore more of the beautiful Borders.
Although I am firmly of the view that people in the Borders need their cars to live and work, there is no doubt that a more connected railway and bus service would benefit our environment too. For those seeking to reach net zero climate targets, better public transport links would certainly help.
Of course, this project will have its challenges. But I am confident that, with the support of local campaigners and our community, we can make the positive case for extending the Borders Railway to Hawick, Newcastleton and onto Carlisle.
We should seize this chance to transform the Scottish Borders for the better. By extending the railway, we can create a more connected and more prosperous future for the Borders.