Posted 7th September 2015 | 4 Comments

Queues form for first trains on reopened Borders line

WEEKDAY trains are running on the Borders Railway today for the first time since 1969.

The £296 million line, which has been rebuilt from the outskirts of Edinburgh to Galashiels and Tweedbank, saw passenger-carrying services on Saturday, when holders of special 'golden tickets' had been able to try out the line, while public services began early on Sunday, with queues reported at the terminus of Tweedbank.

The 48km line has been the subject of controversy, with campaigners unhappy that parts of the route were restored as single track, which will limit capacity. Simon Walton, who chairs the Campaign for Borders Rail, warned that the track layout did not leave a 'great margin for error' if services were delayed.

The line now has trains every half hour during weekdays, calling at eight stations. The complete journey from Tweedbank to Edinburgh via Galashiels and Stow takes less than an hour.

The Scottish Government says the new link will boost the economy of the Borders region. Infrastructure Secretary Keith Brown said: “The Borders Railway is now open for business! Many people have waited a very long time to hear those words and I am proud and excited to be able to say them.

“The communities along the route have now been able to experience their new railway with a party to remember, and from today they will be able to make it a part of their everyday lives."

ScotRail Alliance managing director Phil Verster said: “Today heralds a new era of opportunity for the Borders and for the whole of Scotland. This is the first of many major infrastructure and service improvements that will transform the railway in our country.

“New trains will mean more seats, faster journey times and appealing ticket offers. A programme of refurbishment will enable customers to enjoy amazing scenic routes, like the Borders, from the comfort of modern, well equipped trains. And new partnerships with local authorities, and business and community organisations will deliver a railway that connects people from door to destination.”

Her Majesty the Queen will set the seal on the route when she formally reopens it on Wednesday. The date has been chosen because on that day the length of her reign will exceed that of Queen Victoria, who has been the longest reigning British monarch since her death in 1901.

Tweedbank may not be the end of the line forever, because there are calls for trains to continue eventually from there over the rest of the former Waverley route to Hawick and Carlisle.

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • David Cook, Broadstone, Dorset

    I would love a 26 year old class 158 for the journey from Barnstaple to Exeter, class 143 bus type things can be quite grim on longish journeys... I'd be really delighted if some of our closed lines here in the West Country could be opened on the cheap using older reconditioned trains to get costs down!
    [Great Western's plans for the Barnstaple branch include the replacement of the 143s with 150s in May 2017. In December 2018, to quote from the official brochure about the new franchise, 'Segregation of the Barnstaple services from other routes will allow them to be operated by 3-car air-conditioned 90mph class 158s, equipped with free Wi-Fi...'.--Editor.]

  • John Gilbert, Cradley, Herefordshire

    The provision of only nine and a half miles of double track is indeed seriously short-sighted, but what is truly and utterly crass is to build new bridges of only single-track width, thus making the doubling of further lengths of the line prohibitively expensive. All bridges need two abutments: to have provided Borders Line bridges suitable for future double tracking would have needed only a longer length of decking. This idiocy is going to come back to haunt those who refused double-track width bridges!!

  • Tony Pearce, Reading

    I think the re-opening is really exciting news. Well done the Scots. Maybe one day the double track can go back in, but for now its probably the best that can be done with the money. The area served is not the most heavily Populated Area in Scotland, and possibly, passenger growth after the inital rush will not be very much.

  • A Brown, Glasgow

    I'm not sure that a 26 year old class 158 could be described as modern. These will be the mainstay of the service for years to come. Once electrification of the lines in Central Scotland is complete it will be the class 170 Turbstars which get handed back to the train leasing company.