Published: 3rd August 2015
Her Majesty the Queen is formally to open the Borders Railway on the very day she is due to become the longest-reigning British monarch.
The event on 9 September looks set to make the reintroduction of trains to Midlothian and the Scottish Borders one of the most significant developments in Scottish railway history. She could meet Madge Elliot who was the first passenger on the line, an acknowledgment, of her decades of campaigning to re-open the line.
That the Queen is due to surpass Queen Victoria for longevity on the throne on the same day is certain to guarantee that the reopening of a significant stretch of the former Waverley Route will gain worldwide publicity.
The Royal formalities will see steam also return to the Borders in advance of scheduled public steam operations. The A4 Pacific number 60009 “Union of South Africa” is to haul a Royal special on the morning of 9 September from Edinburgh Waverley station to Tweedbank, between Galashiels and Melrose.
The train, with Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP also on board with the Queen and Prince Philip, will call on the way at Newtongrange, the Midlothian station serving a major mining museum at the former Lady Victoria Colliery.
Public ScotRail diesel services are due to begin between Edinburgh and Tweedbank on 6 September, following celebrations over the previous two days.
The 30 miles of new and reopened railway are the longest to open at the same time in the UK for more than 100 years.
Ex LNER ‘A4’ No. 6l0009 Union of South Africa is due to run special steam trains on three days a week for several weeks from 10 September.
Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Keith Brown MSP, said it was a "great honour" that the Queen would lead celebrations.
According to BBC Scotland, Buckingham Palace calculates that Queen Victoria reigned for 23,226 days, 16 hours and 23 minutes between her accession in 1837 and death in 1901. Queen Elizabeth is due to beat that record on 9 September this year.
Mr Brown said: "The people of the Borders and Midlothian have waited almost half a century to see the return of their railway and it is fitting that these two such historic events coincide.”
He added: "This will be a double celebration and we are also ensuring that the people who have campaigned, worked hard and shown such patience throughout this process are able to play a full part in the celebrations, with a separate day dedicated just to them."
Phil Verster, managing director of the ScotRail Alliance, described the event as “truly historic” and said: "We are thrilled that Her Majesty The Queen will open the new Borders Railway on such a special day for the Royal Family.”
"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,” Mr Verster added.
For later public steam journeys, ScotRail is linking with Steam Dreams, who have a booking phone number 01483 209888
The steam journeys will run three days a week from 10 September for six weeks. Departures from Edinburgh Waverley are at 1044 or 1052 in the morning, due back just after 4pm.
Tickets will be priced at £75 First Class, £40 Standard and £20 for a Standard Class child’s ticket (under 16). A family ticket (two adults and two children, Standard) is priced at £100. All tickets include train travel on ScotRail services to get to and from the steam train on the same day.
Regular scheduled passenger trains will be diesel-operated. Tickets are available now and can by booked via redspottedhanky.com
Scotland’s South-Western main line has been closed temporarily as the result of a collision involving two engineering trains during work on the route.
Buses replaced trains between Dumfries and Kilmarnock after the derailment on 1 August at Logan, east of Cumnock in Ayrshire. Disruption was at first expected until at least 5 August but this estimate was revised on 3 August to “at least 12 August”. Trains may be affected for up to two weeks in total.
Derailed wagons are being removed and damaged track restored. It has been reported by BBC Scotland that the impact on ScotRail services on the Dumfries line could continue until mid-August.
Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland's “Good Morning Scotland” programme on Monday 3 August, Network Rail's infrastructure director in Scotland, David Dickson, said there had been "extensive damage".
"We think it will take around ten days to get all the wagons off as it's quite a complicated operation. We need to build an access road for a crane, which will then be built on site," Mr Dickson said.
ScotRail tickets are being accepted between Carlisle and Glasgow Central by Virgin Trains and TransPennine Express.
Freight trains are being diverted via the West Coast Main Line and Paisley.