Scottish Infrastructure Secretary Keith Brown (centre) witnessing the final rail installation in February

Scottish Borders Railway opens Midlothian route after 47-year hiatus

The longest new domestic railway to be built in the UK for over a century has opened to the Scottish public.

The Borders Railway takes passengers on a 30-mile journey from Edinburgh through Midlothian to Tweedbank in the Scottish Borders, returning train services to that part of south-east Scotland after a 47-year hiatus.

The £294m construction project re-establishes part of the former Waverley line, which fell victim to the controversial Beeching cuts on January 6 1969, leaving the Borders region without any access to the National Rail network.

Hugh Wark, project director for Network Rail, said: ''It's been a hugely complex project: 30 miles of railway delivered in under three years. It's quite an achievement. I believe it will be hugely successful. It's a marvellous railway, so let's really get the best benefits out of it that we possibly can.

''I can remember the line when it closed in 1969 and it was hugely controversial at the time. I never dreamt in my career that I would be involved in reopening this railway.''

Getting the 55-minute service up and running involved building seven new stations along the route and refurbishing 95 bridges, in addition to relaying track and signalling equipment.

According to officials the project was delivered on time and on budget and the Queen will officially open the railway on Wednesday with a special steam train trip marking the day she becomes Britain's longest-serving monarch.

Scheduled services carrying the first fare-paying passengers started yesterday, but some locals living close to the line were given VIP treatment on the train on Saturday as part of a day of celebratory events.

Scotland's Infrastructure Secretary Keith Brown said: "Scotland's railways are enjoying a period of success not seen since the time that the old Waverley line was built in the Victorian era, largely thanks to the Scottish Government's record levels of investment, but also because the people of Scotland see the benefits of rail.

"The Borders Railway will be a real catalyst for growth in the Scottish Borders and Midlothian. It will open up new opportunities for work, leisure, study and investment and business for these areas which will, in turn, benefit the wider Scottish economy.

"Today promises to be a busy day for the new line and I look forward to seeing just how many people have turned up to enjoy these first ever ScotRail Borders Railway services."

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