History was made at 0845 on September 6, when the first passenger train left the Borders town of Tweedbank bound for Edinburgh Waverley.
ScotRail Alliance Managing Director Phil Verster said that while campaigners may have had their doubts that it would ever happen, the £294 million project is now a reality.
The 1969 closure ripped the heart out of the region. Verster said: “It affected Borders more than any other community.” Speaking on September 4, prior to a special VIP press trip leaving at 1020 for Tweedbank, Verster commented: “Today that changes. It is a new era. It will bring new business opportunities and connect people with jobs. The project itself has led to the creation of thousands of jobs. This project allows people to move to the Borders. The people of Scotland will be able to travel and take in these opportunities and the scenery.”
He later said: “This is an amazing moment. This is not just the opening of a new railway line; it is the opening up of a large part of our country to incredible new opportunities to grow and to prosper.
“For 50 years, people in the Borders have campaigned to have their rail service re-introduced. I’m sure that many people thought over that time that this would never happen. I am so pleased that we have delivered this new line, and so excited about what it will do for the area and for Scotland in general.”
Network Rail Chief Executive Mark Carne says: “I am enormously proud today to see 30 miles of new railway and seven new stations added to Britain’s rail network. The Borders Railway will connect communities along the route to the rest of the country in a way that they have not enjoyed in almost half a century. I look forward to seeing Midlothian and the Scottish Borders prosper economically and socially from this new route in the coming years.
“Personally, I would like to offer my thanks to the project team at Network Rail and our principal contractors BAM Nuttall. They have performed exceptionally to build this railway, on time and on budget and in less than three years, and it sets the standards by which we should measure our project delivery.”
Keith Brown, Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities, speaking on September 4, said: “The excitement is palpable. People can use the train once again.
“It will spread wealth and jobs, and it will provide an alternative to the car. Transport is vital to sustainable growth. The Borders Railway is a true demonstration of good cooperation and collaboration.