Rail route buffs lining up Whitrope celebrations

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June promises to be a busy month for local railway heritage buffs as they prepare for the 150th anniversary of the inception of the Carlisle-Hawick rail link – the Border Union Railway (BUR) – on July 1, writes Andrew Keddie.

There is still plenty to do at the Waverley Route Heritage Association (WRHA)’s Whitrope site in Liddesdale – from the pointing of the newly-built platform to the painting of notices and signboards.

In a welcome example of co-operation, contractors currently working for Transport Scotland on the northern part of the Waverley line contacted BUR/WRHA to say the former station footbridge at Eskbank Station was surplus to requirements ahead of the route from Edinburgh to Tweedbank being reopened in 2014.

The heritage group has arranged to have the bridge picked up from Midlothian and transported down to Whitrope where it will be stored and restored prior to being installed at Riccarton Junction – replacing the original which was destroyed following the closure of the line in 1969.

Yesterday, a second new powered coach to run on the half-mile restored section at Whitrope was due to arrive on site.

The anniversary celebrations on July 1 will be opened by MSP John Lamont and Madge Elliot, stalwart defender of the Waverley line. Festivities will start at 10am, with trains running until 4pm.

Meanwhile, Iain McIntosh from Newcastleton, operations director of the restored section, recently travelled to Spain to sign a twinning agreement with the Spanish heritage railway Asvafar.

The deal will involve regular exchanges of technical know-how and experience.

“We hope this twinning arrangement will be of benefit to the local economy as the name of Liddesdale becomes better known in Europe,” said Mr McIntosh.