Borders Railway

(Waverley Line)

The Borders Railway extends for 30¾ miles (49.5 km) from Tweedbank in the Scottish Borders to Millerhill in Midlothian, then onwards to Waverley Station in Edinburgh using existing infrastructure and stations at Brunstane and Newcraighall. It mostly follows the route of the former Waverley Line but includes new stations at Shawfair, Eskbank, Newtongrange, Gorebridge, Stow, Galashiels and Tweedbank. It represents the longest railway line to be constructed in Britain for over 100 years.

The Borders Railway is predominantly single-track, with three double-track sections to allow trains to pass. Particular challenges were posed by the A720 Edinburgh Bypass and A7 Trunk Road at Eskbank which had both blocked the original route and required significant new bridges, together with buildings which had occupied parts of the former track bed and had to be demolished. A length of the old line had been used as a cycleway and, near Tweedbank, the route had formed a short section of the Southern Upland Way, so replacements for these and other walking routes had to be established. Significant structures that were re-used include the remarkable 23-arch Lothianbridge Viaduct, the Glenesk Viaduct, Bowshank Tunnel, Torwoodlee Tunnel and Redbridge Viaduct. The total cost of the project was £294 million including 137 bridges; 42 newly constructed and 95 refurbished historical structures.

The Edinburgh and Hawick Railway opened in 1849, connecting Edinburgh to Galashiels, Melrose, Newtown St. Boswells and Hawick. It was extended to Carlisle as the Border Union Railway in 1862 and became known as the Waverley Line to emphasise the connection with Sir Walter Scott (1771 - 1832) because it crosses the country where Scott set his Waverley Novels. The railway not only provided a transport link for people and goods through the Scottish Borders, but also brought coal from the Midlothian coalfield to power the Borders mills or transported it onwards to markets in the north of England.

The Waverley Line closed in 1969, a victim of the Beeching cuts whereby sections of the British railway network that were considered to be uneconomic were taken out of service and abandoned. A sustained campaign to reopen the railway began in 1999. A new railway was formally initiated in 2007 by the Deputy First Minister, Nicol Stephen (b.1960) and advanced by the Waverley Partnership, which comprised Scottish Enterprise Borders, Scottish Borders Council, City of Edinburgh Council and Midlothian Council. A hiatus in the tendering process followed and costs increased but eventually the work was undertaken by Network Rail with BAM Nuttall serving as the principal contractor. The name of the project was officially changed to the Borders Railway in 2014 because it only represented the northern section of the former Waverley Line.

HM Queen Elizabeth II formally opened the completed line on the 9th September 2015, which was also the occasion of her reign becoming the longest of any British monarch. She was joined by HRH Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (b. 1970) on the journey from Edinburgh to Tweedbank in a train pulled by the Class A4 steam locomotive Union of South Africa, which was built in 1937.

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