Posted by: wrha | June 30, 2012

Up & Running!

Notwithstanding the return of passenger services to Brunstane and Newcraighall in the Edinburgh suburbs a few years ago, it hasn’t been possible to travel on a passenger train on the Waverley Route proper for some 43 years. Indeed, the biggest bare patch on the British railway map has been centred on the Scottish Borders: quite possibly the only local authority area in the whole country not to have a single passenger railway station. The controversial decision to deprive such a large swathe of territory of this basic public service has had economic repercussions which can still be felt to this day, and a trip over the tortuous “B” road from Hawick to Newcastleton shows how public transport was set back by over a century on that fateful 6th of January 1969. “Its quicker by hearse” as the protestors said at the time…..

Fast forward to the 30th of June 2012, at 10:30 hrs to be precise, and the first passenger service on the reborn Waverley Route departs the new Whitrope station on its short run to the Golden Bridge, exploding detonators on the way to mark the occasion. To those first passengers, with all their words of praise and encouragement, we give our heartfelt thanks: it means a lot to know our efforts over the past eleven years are appreciated. Britain’s newest heritage railway has been added to the map: a MAIN LINE railway which has HUGE potential for the future. This is just the start!

Sunday saw the 150th anniversary of the opening of the original Border Union Railway and the OFFICIAL opening of its 21st century namesake. Watched by a sizeable crowd, the ribbon cutting ceremony was performed by Madge Elliot, stalwart campaigner and Waverley Route legend, and speeches were made by our Chairman Ian Crooks, local MSP John Lamont and of course Madge herself. Our guests then boarded the train for a couple of return trips down the line, cracking a few more detonators along the way. The afternoon saw full trains, a thronged platform, no seats left in the buffet car and a car park bursting at the seams: great stuff!

Our thanks go to all the volunteers, members, friends and family who made the weekend happen, to all our visitors and passengers who turned out to support us and last but not least to Dave and Craig for bringing their railbus up to Whitrope for us all to enjoy.

Shortly after 2pm on 1st July 2012, veteran Waverley Route campaigner Madge Elliot cuts the ribbon to officially open the new Border Union Railway, watched by John Lamont MSP (right)

The railbus all ready for the off at the start of the day, complete with Glasgow bus blind!

Packed trains on Sunday

Travelling Inspector Paul Brennock checks tickets on another run


Youtube footage courtesy of WRHA volunteer Tony Graham





  1. Fantastic day had by all I think I can safely say. Thanks go to the people who have made this day possible but a BIG thank you to those members of the public who turned out to support us. Sunday I hope will be just as busy.

    This weekend can only but help spread the good word and determination of this small but dedicated group of volunteers.

  2. Hi team, congratulations! I’m really gutted that I couldn’t get over for the opening, but will check out progress in December. It seems like a hundred years since I sat in Len and Hilary’s front room and first heard of his plans for Whitrope…dream large! Next stop Riccarton!

  3. Can we get THIS one the WRHA Homepage rather than tucked away here.
    Well done to everyone as Brucie would have us say, “Didn’t we do well”?

    • Congratulations all round – a fantastic achievement and a real dream come true!

      Geoff – consider it done! (MS)

    • Could you no wait until there is photographs Geoff???

  4. wish I could have been there,well done lads

  5. Been up this afternoon well done guys . great work next stop Riccarton

  6. Gratulations. The journey from Germany was worth it. Excellent beginning.
    Next stop Riccarton sounds good.

  7. What a contrast was the sheer ecstasy on Madge’s face yesterday compared to that on her face in Downing Street in 1968. Never in her wildest dreams would ever she have imagined then cutting an opening tape in over forty years time.

    Well done to all concerned.

    Now I know you’ve not got a “new-build” on the plans (yet! – however large oaks from little acorns etc….) but I suggest naming your loco “Madge Elliot MBE”.

    Best wishes and congratulations again.

    • That exact idea was floating around in my head this morning while on my modern day APT type tilting train thingy. What an honour that would be, it was good to meet her and to see the joy it brought to her face when cutting the ribbon.

  8. Well, we’ve got lift off, the job now is to keep it going, next stop Riccarton as you say Andreas. Well done all of you.


  9. Yes, well done! When I stepped off the last service train at Newcastleton in the early hours of Sunday 5th January 1969, I never imagined I’d travel even a short stretch of the Border Union again. It was worth a 300-mile drive to catch that very first train from Whitrope on Saturday morning. I hope it won’t be too long before trains get through to Riccarton again. After that, what is the plan? Steele Road? Newcastleton?

    • Longtown and or Carlisle! Well we can dream and possibly not in my lifetime but….. Watch this space!

    • Hopefully Hermitage Siding then on to Newcastleton.

      Roy Perkins

      • I guess this means ‘think big’ as the Welsh Highland and Lynton & Barnstaple have done?

      • And why the devil not? Our scenery is just as nice.

      • I agree that our scenery is every bit as good. Imagine if we could have steam trains climbing the hill again from The Holm to Whitrope! I meant ‘think big’ in the sense that both those railways I mentioned realised they needed to get big money behind them. So, on the basis that those railways could attract tourist visitors into the area and thus boost the local economy, they have sought out government and EU funding, etc.

  10. This is it folks. Yesterday was the day we truly arrived and if the positivity and goodwill I was sensing from those who attended is anything to go by we are going to enjoy a lot of future support. Hopefully we can harness this energy to propel us to the next stage of our development. I’m wholly in agreement with Bruce that Madge’s name fully deserves to be celebrated on the side of a locomotive or unit and would strongly suggest that the late Rev Mabon deserves the same honour. When we finally reach Riddings, can we borrow the Clayton and some lifting equipment in order to relay a track panel in the presence of a TV film crew? 😉

  11. A big well done and thank you to everyone that has played a part in getting the project this far. Despite moving to the South, I will still make time to come up a lend a practical hand (bringing experience from ZG with me). I have no issues with any of NR’s stock carrying a nameplate…

  12. Lovely day and so good to see so many people supporting a great cause. It was so nice to see the rail bus and MK1 being used for the purpose they were built for. So many happy smiling faces.
    Thank you to those who kept an eye on my little boy while I whizzed about.
    Not everyday you get to serve an SMP and MBE afternoon tea!.

  13. All good positive comments, not just here but from people I know who visited.

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