Service to Tweedbank and meeting at Stow will mark 50th anniversary of closure of Waverley Route

Tweedbank train station, the end of the line for the Borders Railway.
Tweedbank train station, the end of the line for the Borders Railway.

A special train service will be run from Edinburgh to Tweedbank this Saturday, January 5, to mark the 50th anniversary of the closure of the old Waverley Route.

Hundreds of spectators are expected to watch as two Class 50 engines pull the train, run by Pathfinder Tours, along the 30-mile track.

The service will start at Birmingham and head up the west coast main line, arriving at Tweedbank at 1.35pm, then departing less than an hour later.

“The closure should never have happened, but that is in the past and is something we cannot change,” said Campaign for Borders Rail chairman Simon Walton.

“What we are seeking is a broad spectrum of support in the Borders to achieve nothing less than an economic regeneration for the entire region.

“Turning back half a century of decline is no easy task, but the existing Borders Railway has proved that building a railway can provide one huge leap forward.

“The railway is a positive way of contributing to the viability and visibility of the region.

“Building a railway through to Hawick and then Carlisle will redouble the massive success of the Borders Railway and bring whole new audiences and marketing to the region.

“In the coming year, we will move closer than ever to seeing a cross-border route, of that I am certain.

“The community needs to show not just faith in our vision but to actively support the campaign in being vocal in our demands for a better deal for the Borders.

“We need to be great ambassadors for a neglected part of the country.”

After Saturday’s train departs, there will be a meeting in Stow Town Hall to be addressed by speakers including Lord Steel of Aikwood, MP for the Borders at the time of the closure.

The 98-mile Waverley Route from Edinburgh to Carlisle was among 6,000-plus miles of track closed in the 1960s as part of a reorganisation of the national rail network overseen by then British Rail chairman Richard Beeching.

The opening of the £353m Borders Railway in 2015 brought a third of the line back into use, and campaigners are now pushing for the remaining near 70 miles of the cross-border line to be reinstated too.

For details of Saturday’s £105-a-head excursion, via Crewe and Carlisle, go to www.pathfindertours.co.uk