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.
Youtube footage courtesy of WRHA volunteer Tony Graham