According to Gordon Henderson, senior development manager of the Federation of Small Business and a supporter of the Borders Railway, "economists and statisticians could talk you out of anything". The local perspective on the scheme is strongly at variance with the pessimistic view of economic commentators.
Samantha Smith, economic development manager for Borders Council, calls the railway scheme "a game-changer for the local economy" and "one of the most exciting and forward-thinking projects ever to be backed in rural Scotland".
"Scottish Borders and Midlothian have among the lowest GVA [Gross Value Added] levels in Scotland, and we are the only region of the UK which does not have a rail link," she points out.
She details an internal council internal plan for maximising the benefits of the scheme, built around implementation and construction, commuting and inward investment, business growth and the "ripple effects" for tourism and regional marketing. The council is also working with Network Rail to invest an additional £250,000 in station design and connections, and more than £10 million in the redevelopment of Galashiels, including a transport interchange, business space and town centre regeneration.
Smith says: "The development of a new Borders Business Park could bring between 1000-2300 new jobs in high-value professional services.
"Our new tourism strategy aims to use the link to increase visitors linked to the development of assets such as Abbotsford House and the 7stanes mountain biking project."
In the meantime, construction helps local contractors, and has created new apprenticeships and new train driver jobs based at the terminus at Tweedbank.
Smith cites the hard-to-quantify benefits that even critics of the scheme admit exist: "Arguably the biggest benefit will be changed perceptions. The Scottish Borders is often perceived as being remote and 'on the edge' of Scotland. We have stunning landscapes, excellent schools, a skilled workforce, and a fantastic quality of life."