Published: 19th September 2016
Steam trains will continue to run on the Borders Railway in Scotland on Sundays during September, ScotRail has confirmed.
This news follows doubts reported about the future of steam excursions organised by the franchise, which is managed by Abellio in alliance with Network Rail.
In an email to regular customers on 31 August ScotRail announced that discounts would be available, but the trains would definitely run.
The email told intending passengers: “Enjoy a day out in vintage style on the Borders Railway with our steam train specials departing Edinburgh Waverley every Sunday until 25 September 2016.”
The cost of a Premier Dining ticket for a return journey fell from £130 to £99 and the charge for a Standard return on the special trains came down from £55 to £35.
Departures will continue to be as planned at 0945 and 1646 hours on Sundays from Edinburgh Waverley to Tweedbank, with passengers being given the option of making their excursion instead to Galashiels, the second last station on the line, a few minutes on the Edinburgh side of Tweedbank.
Trains that were to have been hauled by locomotive number 60009 “Union of South Africa” in September are expected to be hauled by the locomotive used on Sundays in August, number 46100 “Royal Scot”, on dates when “Union of South Africa” is unavailable because of temporary technical problems with the locomotive.
The journey from Edinburgh is behind steam, with a diesel locomotive at the Edinburgh end of the train for the return from Tweedbank.
Trains are being arranged on behalf of ScotRail by the Steam Dreams organisation. Optional additional excursions by road are available from Tweedbank to connect with the special steam workings.
Meanwhile, “The Scotsman” newspaper has reported that there are doubts about the future of ScotRail steam excursions on other routes. Steam in the Borders and elsewhere was planned to be part of Abellio’s successful bid for the ScotRail franchise last year.
“Union of South Africa” hauled a train from Edinburgh to the Borders in September last year for the Queen, when Her Majesty formally opened the line. The same locomotive was also used on ScotRail steam excursion runs for the public as part of the celebrations for the line’s opening a year ago between Edinburgh and Tweedbank, near Melrose.
The Scottish Railway Preservation Society has announced that some steam trips of their own are to be cancelled.
Supporters of the SRPS have been told that “due to mechanical issues” the A4 locomotive “Union of South Africa” will not be available for the Fife and Forth Circle Steam Specials on Saturday 10 September and it has not proved possible to secure the use of another steam locomotive.
“Consequently we have reluctantly been left with no alternative but to cancel these trains and will be contacting passengers and refunding any payments,” the SRPS announced.