The new Borders Railway opens to the public today, bringing to an end a near 47-year wait for train services to return to the region.
The line is the longest new domestic railway to be built in the UK for over a century and takes passengers on a 30-mile journey from Edinburgh through Midlothian to Tweedbank in the Scottish Borders.
Some local people who live close to the line were given VIP treatment on the train on Saturday as part of a day of celebratory events, and scheduled services carrying the first fare-paying passengers start today.
The £294 million construction project, which officials say was delivered on time and on budget, re-establishes part of the former Waverley line, which fell victim to the controversial Beeching cuts on January 6 1969, leaving the Borders region without any access to the National Rail network.
Hugh Wark, project director for Network Rail, said: ‘’It’s been a hugely complex project - 30 miles of railway delivered in under three years. It’s quite an achievement.
‘’I believe it will be hugely successful. It’s a marvellous railway, so let’s really get the best benefits out of it that we possibly can.
‘’I can remember the line when it closed in 1969 and it was hugely controversial at the time. I never dreamt in my career that I would be involved in reopening this railway.’’
The Queen will officially open the railway on Wednesday with a special steam train trip marking the day she becomes Britain’s longest-serving monarch.
Tourism chiefs hope the 55-minute service will boost visitor numbers to Midlothian and the Borders.
Scotland’s infrastructure secretary Keith Brown said: “Scotland’s railways are enjoying a period of success not seen since the time that the old Waverley line was built in the Victorian era, largely thanks to the Scottish Government’s record levels of investment, but also because the people of Scotland see the benefits of rail.
“The Borders Railway will be a real catalyst for growth in the Scottish Borders and Midlothian. It will open up new opportunities for work, leisure, study and investment and business for these areas which will, in turn, benefit the wider Scottish economy.
“Today promises to be a busy day for the new line and I look forward to seeing just how many people have turned up to enjoy these first ever ScotRail Borders Railway services.”