Iconic trains to maximise tourism on Borders Rail
FM – ‘Stunning scenery’ of new line will be showcased by charter plans.
Iconic railway engines will be chartered to carry passengers on the Borders Rail to increase tourism and maximise the advantage of the beautiful setting of the new line under new plans unveiled by First Minister Alex Salmond today.
The First Minister confirmed discussions were taking place with charter firms to secure the use of symbolic trains to run on the line to attract more tourists and railway enthusiasts to the Borders after the project is complete in 2015.
Speaking from Hawick as part of the Scottish Government’s summer cabinet programme, Mr Salmond announced that the initiative would begin as soon as the line opened, with plans already underway to secure a famous steam train for the launch ceremony.
The First Minister said the “stunning scenery” that lines the 30 mile route would be a major draw for visitors, with plans also well advanced to expand the proposed terminal station at Tweedbank to ensure that the infrastructure was in place to handle tourist trains carrying hundreds of passengers.
The First Minister said:
“There can be few railway journeys anywhere to match the stunning scenery that will line the route of the new Borders Rail when it opens in 2015, more than 40 years after the last rail service to the region closed.
“As well as a vital commuter route, the reopened line will provide outstanding opportunities for tourism in the Borders, with passengers expected to flock to see the many fantastic attractions and experiences on offer here, not to mention the attraction that the new line will have for railway enthusiasts.
“It’s important that we maximise these opportunities, offering passengers every reason to travel on the new line, and I am delighted to announce that talks are now underway with charter train firms to ensure that people have an unforgettable experience travelling along this incredible rail route on some iconic rail engines.
“We have already announced plans to expand the proposed new station at Tweedbank to cope with the influx of tourist trains expected on the line after its completion, and I hope that the glorious thought of some historic and symbolic trains winding their way down the new 30 mile track will be enough to tempt even more people to spend some time in the Borders.”
From summer 2015, the Borders Railway will provide services for the first time in more than 40 years. The target cost for constructing the project agreed with Network Rail is £294m.
The project involves constructing 30 miles of new railway and seven new stations, delivering 400 jobs during the construction phase and acting as a catalyst for increased business development and housing opportunities within easy commuting distance of Edinburgh.
The Minister for Transport and Veterans announced in November 2012, that the design of Tweedbank station would be amended to accommodate charter trains up to 12 coaches in length. This will provide opportunities for specialist tourist charter train operators to run excursions to the Borders improving the opportunities for leisure and tourism in the region and help to promote economic growth.
Confidential consultations with charter operators have taken place to date to discuss tourist trains, including identifying iconic engines to form part of the rail schedule. Further details of the charter trains will be announced in due course.