WATCH: Golden day for lucky Borders few

Golden Ticket Saturday was a day of unbridled joy for those lucky enough to be granted passes for three historic journeys on the new line.

People who had earned their ticket through being nominated for their work in the community joined railway and council officials who had spent years of planning, debating and working on bringing trains back to the Borders.

All Aboard!'Golden Ticket Winners aboard the Stow train some of the first to travel along the new Borders Railway

All Aboard!'Golden Ticket Winners aboard the Stow train some of the first to travel along the new Borders Railway

Trains left Galashiels, Tweedbank and Stow throughout the day, travelling the whole length of the line both ways.

Plaques were unveiled at all three stations.

Driving the first train from Galashiels station was Selkirk man Stuart Farrell. The 29-year-old former car mechanic grabbed the chance to apply and got the job ahead of more than 2,000 applicants.

He said: “To be part of this big day and to drive the first train over this route with passengers on board for over 40 years, evokes a massive sense of pride.

Golden Ticket Winners aboard the Stow train some of the first to travel along the new Borders Railway

Golden Ticket Winners aboard the Stow train some of the first to travel along the new Borders Railway

“I trained for a year, and I’ve been driving by myself for a year and a half.

“There’s been a lot of preparation put in place for this to happen today.”

Also taking part were many people who had links with the railway before it closed in 1969.

Jeanette Redpath, who unveiled the plaque at Stow, was a booking clerkess at the station there.

Simon and Annabelle Niven from Duns board at Stow'Golden Ticket Winners aboard the Stow train some of the first to travel along the new Borders Railway

Simon and Annabelle Niven from Duns board at Stow'Golden Ticket Winners aboard the Stow train some of the first to travel along the new Borders Railway

She said: “It’s an honour for me to unveil the plaque and to see the Stow station open once again.”

Another was Jimmy Mitchell, whose father was station master in Stow.

He said: “The railway was both lines then, it was good. It should never have closed.

“It is brilliant that it’s back. There’s such beautiful scenery on the route.”

Train driver Ian Ritchie'Golden Ticket Winners aboard the Stow train some of the first to travel along the new Borders Railway

Train driver Ian Ritchie'Golden Ticket Winners aboard the Stow train some of the first to travel along the new Borders Railway

Stow man Ian Anderson said: “This is great, absolutely first class.

“I remember the old line when I was based in Coventry and had to get the train up to Edinburgh from Carlisle. It was the world’s worst!

“It stopped every couple of hundred yards for two milk churns. By the time you had got to Edinburgh you had lost the will to live.

“It’s good to see that this service is a lot quicker.”

Many people tweeted their experience on Golden Ticket day and the first passenger trains – read them all on http://www.thesouthernreporter.co.uk/live/event?1463715#

Railway fanatic Paul Brownlee, who has produced a series of internet programmes charting the railway from start to finish, was understandably a little emotional.

Jean Simpson (Jedburgh) with daughter Eslpeth Bruce 'Golden Ticket Winners aboard the Stow train some of the first to travel along the new Borders Railway

Jean Simpson (Jedburgh) with daughter Eslpeth Bruce 'Golden Ticket Winners aboard the Stow train some of the first to travel along the new Borders Railway

He travelled on a media train on Friday, was a Golden Ticket passenger on Saturday and was one of the first paying passengers on Sunday.

He said: “It’s a fantastic line, a smooth journey and a shot in the arm for our local area. If you don’t like it, don’t use it, but by heck you’re missing out!”

Golden Ticket Winners aboard the Stow train some of the first to travel along the new Borders Railway

Golden Ticket Winners aboard the Stow train some of the first to travel along the new Borders Railway