By Phil Marsh

Second season of Borders Line tourist steam services announced

Published: 22nd June 2016

Edinburgh Festival steam specials to Tweedbank

Two veteran steam locomotives with strong Scottish connections will feature on trips from Edinburgh Waverley station on Sundays in August and September 2016.

ScotRail has announced that the special trains will run on the Borders Railway following the success of steam outings last September when the railway opened between Edinburgh and Tweedbank (between Galashiels and Melrose) on part of the old Waverley Route through Midlothian into the Scottish Borders.

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Sunday services

Sundays have been chosen for the morning and afternoon journeys because regular ScotRail services are hourly on Sundays so special trains can be fitted into timetables more easily. (Half-hourly normal service trains on other days would make this more difficult.) Edinburgh, the most popular city destination for foreign tourists to the UK after London, is busy with potential passengers during the Festival month of August.

The carriages will come from the Scottish Railway Preservation Society. The locomotive in August will be former London Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS) “Royal Scot” Class, number 46100 “Royal Scot” and in September, the motive power will be provided by former London & North Eastern Railway (LNER) A4 Class locomotive number 60009 “Union of South Africa”.

Royal train

The A4 hauled the Queen’s train for last autumn’s formal opening of the route. It then powered several excursions for enthusiasts and others. During August this year, the A4 is expected to be getting workshop attention at the National Railway Museum in York prior to moving to its Scottish home to work the special trains.

The journeys are being offered by ScotRail in partnership with Steam Dreams twice every Sunday from 7 August until 25 September.

Return tickets between Edinburgh and Tweedbank include £55 Standard Class and £130 for Premier Dining (includes meal in First Class). First Class, with gourmet dining in a private compartment, is £150.

Local companies in the Scottish Borders are also involved to offer road excursions from the railway terminus at Tweedbank.

Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Tourism, Fiona Hyslop MSP said: “It’s fantastic that 2016 will see the return of these iconic trains to the Scottish Borders Railway. After their sell out season last year the opportunity to visit Abbotsford and other attractions in the area shows the prospects for different sectors to work together to grow the tourism economy of the Scottish Borders.”

Councillor David Parker, Leader of Scottish Borders Council, said:

“I am delighted to see the return of the steam train trips to the Borders Railway. The trips were extremely successful last year with thousands of people visiting the Borders thanks to the journeys. I am pleased a number of local companies will be involved in 2016 to build on this success.”

He added: “With the tremendous Flying Scotsman day last month, the Borders Railway is now becoming one of the great scenic rail journeys to experience.”

Danny Cusick, Chair of the Borders Railway Blueprint Leaders Group, said: “Following a hugely successful inaugural steam train experience last year, we are delighted that this year will see an even better and enhanced steam train experience for the Borders Railway. “

Mr Cusick added: “World-famous steam trains will allow passengers to see one of the world’s most beautiful and scenic railway routes in classic style, and we’re confident that this will attract visitors from all over the world to the area to experience a truly wonderful journey and the very best of what Scotland has to offer.”

Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland said: “The Borders Railway opened last September and has already provided a real boost to Scottish tourism and the wider economy with hundreds of thousands of passengers making the journey and experiencing the great variety of attractions and businesses on the route.

“To have steam train journeys available again this summer for visitors and residents alike is brilliant news. It really is a chance for passengers to step back in time and enjoy the beautiful countryside on another level as these majestic locomotives make their way through Edinburgh, Midlothian and the Scottish Borders.”

Cathy Craig, Commercial Director of the ScotRail Alliance, said that the company announced the return of steam to the Borders Railway with great pleasure.

She said: “These journeys give people a chance to appreciate the new Borders Railway from the wonderful setting of a vintage steam train. This is a fabulous opportunity to showcase the line, and in such a romantic style.”

She added: “Not many train journeys can match the outstanding scenery on this route, and I look forward to seeing how successful these trips will be.”

A steam locomotive will haul the trains from Edinburgh at 09:46 and 16:46 on each Sunday. A diesel locomotive will be at the Edinburgh end of each train returning from Tweedbank at 13:55 and 19:55. Stops will be made at Galashiels.

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