Connecting communities

Borders Railway: Photo courtesy of Walter Baxter [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Borders Railway: Photo courtesy of Walter Baxter [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

UK Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has suggested that rail lines would be re-opened if they offer 'value for money'. The modern Borders Railway is an example of one such line which is reconnecting communities and stimulating growth in the region.

The arrival of the Borders Railway in 2015 was a hugely significant event for a region without rail connections since 1969. This railway project, officially opened on 9 September 2015 by HM the Queen on the same day she became Britain’s longest serving monarch, was the UK’s longest new domestic railway to be built for over a century.

The 35-mile line cost £294m (2012 prices) and is one of the largest infrastructure projects delivered by the Scottish Government. Construction involved extensive mining remediation with just under a million tonnes of earth moved. 30 miles of new railway and 90,000 sleepers were laid together with seven rail stations and six station car parks.

John Austin, British Steel’s Key Account Manager, said: “We're very proud to have provided the rail for this historic new line which is helping to strengthen transport connections across the country.”

Rail delivery from our Scunthorpe site started in November 2014 as part of its rail supply contract with Network Rail. In the following 10 weeks it shipped more than 700 tonnes of 108-metre long rails every week, all fully safety and quality checked.

Leigh Goble, Business Support Manager, Switch & Crossing Components/Rail, Network Rail, said: “All rails were delivered on time in full – a testament to all concerned given the scale of the delivery, in addition to day-to-day activities.”


Borders railway track laying video from Network Rail


Passenger services on the borders route began on 6 September 2015, running between Edinburgh and Tweedbank via Brunstane, Newcraighall, Shawfair, Eskbank, Newtongrange, Gorebridge, Stow, and Galashiels with a total journey time of around 55 minutes.

Two years on from completion of this project and the success of this new rail line is clear.

Over 2.6 million people have travelled on the Borders Railway since it re-opened. Local businesses and attractions have been benefiting from increased levels of visitors to the region with a 9-10% rise in visitors to attractions such as Abbotsford House, and Crichton Castle. The Scottish Borders region also reports an 8% increase in tourism employment, a 27% increase in the number of visitor days in hotels and bed and breakfasts and a 20% rise in visitor spend on food and drink.

Riddell Graham, Director of Partnerships at VisitScotland said:

“The Borders Railway has had a massive impact on the local economy and has encouraged people to come and visit this part of the country from all over the world. From the momentous re-opening of the historic route by HM the Queen, to this summer’s unique steam train opportunity, the Borders Railway has well and truly captured the attention of the world’s media."

Lindley Kirkpatrick, Head of ScotRail’s Borders Railway programme said:

“The Borders Railway has been an extraordinary success. Each and every day thousands of people are travelling to and from the region for work, to study and to catch up with friends and family. It has also really opened up this most beautiful part of our country to the tourism market that is so important for our country. Businesses are thriving, communities are being strengthened and opportunities are being opened up for people young and old.

“As we continue to build the best railway that Scotland has ever had, we will be looking at more ways to support the line. The passenger numbers we have seen in the first 2 years are really impressive, but we know that this is just the beginning of the story.”


Borders Railway video from VisitScotland


Daniel Pyke, British Steel’s Rail Marketing Manager, said: “Our rails are used in projects both big and small around the globe. It's fantastic to see and share the success in connecting the communities of the Scottish Borders sustainably, stimulating growth and increasing opportunity along the new route.”