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35-mile route ready for travellers

Well-wishers take a Wonka-style journey into Borders history

Borders RailHundreds of well-wishers and enthusiasts will make a journey of a lifetime today, joined by thousands lining the route of the new railway passing through the Borders.

In true Willie Wonka style those lucky enough to have received one of 480 golden tickets will be among the first to travel on the reopened Waverley line between Edinburgh and Tweedbank and take their place in a piece of railway history.

Half-hourly scheduled services begin this weekend and even before the excitement at reopening the 35-mile line has cooled there are demands for it to be extended. A cross-border alliance wants to see links to Hawick and Carlisle.

The £350 million project is expected to bring economic benefits to the Borders, though it still leaves many towns in the region unconnected to the network. Building a 17-mile line to Hawick and on to Cumbria would cost around £500m and the respective local authorities are working together on tentative plans.

However, they will face a number of competitive pressures. Apart from the call by some to bring HS2 to Scotland the reopening of the Waverley line has prompted calls for other victims of the Beeching cuts in the 1960s to be resurrected.

High on the list is a line into St Andrews which was a topic of conversation among golf fans at this year’s Open who have to endure a bus link to and from Leuchars.

Other campaigns include reconnecting Aberdeen to the fishing ports of Fraserburgh and Peterhead, reopening an underground line in Glasgow and reviving plans to build a line to Glasgow airport.

Meantime, the line will be officially opened on Wednesday by the Queen. It is the longest line to be built in Scotland since the route between Fort William and Mallaig opened in 1901 and is the longest stretch of line closed by Beeching to be reopened.

 

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