Rail services make historic Borders return
(Press release Borders Railway:) Edinburgh, 7 September 2015 - The near fifty year wait for train services to be reinstated in the Borders came to an end this weekend when the first rail services began running between Edinburgh and Tweedbank.
The Borders Rail project is the longest new domestic railway line to be built in the UK for over a century. Completed on-time and on-budget, it is expected to carry almost 650,000 passengers a year and will deliver new jobs and new opportunities for economic growth across Midlothian and the Borders.
The £294 million line – funded by Transport Scotland/Scottish Government and constructed by Network Rail - consists of seven new stations joined together by thirty miles of new track. At its peak over 1,100 people were working on the project, refurbishing or building 137 bridges, laying over 1,000 rails across almost 100,000 sleepers.
Her Majesty the Queen will officially open the line on Wednesday (9 September), but the celebrations and events started on Saturday when each new station had its own first train carrying 200 people holding special Golden Tickets.
Members of the public got the first chance to travel on the route on Sunday morning when the first train left Tweedbank at 08:45. Her Majesty will travel on a steam train along the entire route this Wednesday.
ScotRail Alliance Managing Director, Phil Verster said: ‘This is an amazing moment. This is not just the opening of a new railway line; it is the opening up of a large part of our country to incredible new opportunities to grow and to prosper. For fifty years, people in the Borders have campaigned to have their rail service reintroduced. I’m sure that many people thought over that time that the opening weekend would never happen. I am so pleased that we have delivered this new line and so excited about what it will do for the area and for Scotland. I would like to thank the thousands of people who have worked on the project. Building the line has been a significant challenge and that it has been delivered on-time and on budget is testament to the skills of those people who have worked so hard for these past three years.’
Mark Carne, Chief Executive, Network Rail said: ‘I am enormously proud today to see 30 miles of new railway and seven new stations added to Britain’s rail network. The Borders Railway will connect communities along the route to the rest of the country in a way they have not enjoyed in almost half a century. I look forward to seeing Midlothian and the Scottish Borders prosper economically and socially from this new route in the coming years. Personally, I would like to offer my thanks to the project team at Network Rail and our principal contractors BAM. They have performed exceptionally to build this railway, on time and on budget, in under three years and it sets the standard by which we should measure our project delivery.’
Infrastructure Secretary Keith Brown said: ‘It’s been a lifetime in the making for many people in the Borders and Midlothian, and there can be few projects which have generated the levels of excitement and anticipation we have seen around the opening of the Borders Railway. We are now embarking on a festival of celebrations befitting of such a monumental achievement, and I am incredibly proud to have been involved. That a scheme of this magnitude – the longest domestic railway built in the UK in over a century - has been delivered on time and on budget is testament to those who have worked on it, who can now look with a great deal of pride on the growth this railway will deliver for the communities it serves, as well as the Scottish economy as a whole. There are now so many more possibilities for people in the Borders and Midlothian – access to new work, learning and social opportunities, as well as new business and industry links. The Borders Railway has become a symbol of this golden age for Scotland’s railways, and it will be the vehicle for a new prosperity for the communities on the route.’
Dominic Booth, Managing Director of Abellio UK, which operates the ScotRail franchise, said: ‘This is a landmark improvement in transportation for the Borders - better connecting the region for the benefit of local people and the local economy, and helping to drive forward new opportunities. The new line is a remarkable achievement, and a powerful illustration of the importance of a modern railway serving people’s transport and lifestyle needs in the 21st century. Scotland’s railways face an exciting future, and nowhere is that better illustrated today than in the Borders.’