It’s been a long time coming – 46 years, in fact – but at last it’s ‘all aboard’ the Borders train once again.
And, after such a long wait, it’s only fitting that the new railway should come with the royal seal of approval.
Her Majesty The Queen will officially open the Borders Railway on Wednesday, September 9, the day she becomes Britain’s longest ever reigning monarch.
She will officially overtake her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria’s reign of 23,226 days, 16 hours and 23 minutes, while taking in the view from the Edinburgh to Tweedbank train – and the beautiful Borders can only benefit from this extra exposure.
Phil Verster, managing director of the ScotRail Alliance, said: “The Borders Railway will open up Midlothian and the Borders to so many more opportunities including tourism, leisure, work and education, and marking the opening of the line with a Royal visit really is wonderful.
“This will be a truly historical day and we’re honoured to share it with Her Majesty.”
The Queen was 41 years old and in the 16th year of her reign in 1969 when the last passenger train terminated its journey on the route, bringing to an end 150 years of rail connection between the capital city, the Borders and beyond.
The line was ripped up in 1969 despite protests from communities fearful that the loss of the line would leave them isolated and remote.
Now, after years of campaigning, £300million of reconstruction work and a mammoth operation to resurrect bridges and viaducts, the service will reopen with a party atmosphere stretching the entire 30 miles of its route.
The fun begins on Saturday, September 5 – the day before the first paying customers can ride along the route – when 800 ‘Golden Ticket’ holders climb on board for an exclusive VIP trip.
They include local charity volunteers, ex-railway workers and locals with family connections to the former Waverley Line.
They will include pupils from every Borders school – those lucky enough to find a Golden Ticket in a chocolate bar.
And The Southern will be aboard, streaming a live internet feed from the special day – see page 11 for details of how you can take part.
While Saturday is set aside for the VIP Golden Ticket winners, Sunday sees the first paying customers enjoy the railway.
For those who prefer their journey to be even more special, steam engines will pull carriages along the Borders Railway route between Edinburgh Waverley and Tweedbank from Thursday, September 10. The special service will run Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays for six weeks.
The ‘jewel in the crown’ of the celebrations will be the Royal opening – see page 6.
z For further details of steam engine trips on the Borders Railway go to http://www.scotrail.co.uk/scotland-by-rail/steam-trains
z Our 24-page Borders Railway Souvenir pullout special starts on page 45.