The Route and its Construction

Since opening in September 2015, the Borders Railway has greatly enhanced transport links between Edinburgh, Midlothian and the Scottish Borders. It unlocks significant housing, commercial and leisure development opportunities in the Scottish Borders, Midlothian and Edinburgh.

The area includes internationally significant tourist attractions, major town centre developments, and businesses from key growth sectors. The exciting development opportunities it opens up are complemented by a well-educated workforce whose mobility will be enhanced by the railway.

The original Edinburgh to Hawick line opened in 1849, with an extension to Carlisle in 1862. Known as the Waverley route (after the first published novel of celebrated Scottish Borders resident Sir Walter Scott), it provided direct rail services between Edinburgh, the Scottish Borders, Yorkshire and onwards to London for 107 years.

The line closed on 6 January 1969 as part of the Beeching reforms, despite the line providing an estimated 500,000 passenger journeys and carrying over 50,000 tonnes of freight per week. 

The three local authorities (Scottish Borders Council, Midlothian Council, and the City of Edinburgh Council) began work in 2000 to create a business case for reopening the line. As a result of their efforts, and lobbying by the Campaign for Borders Rail and Borders Transport Futures, support was secured from the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise and the rail industry.

The Waverley Railway (Scotland) Act was passed in 2006. Transport Scotland took responsibility for funding and delivering the project from 2008, with Network Rail announced in 2012 as the ‘Authorised Undertaker’. Advanced works by Network Rail and their main contractor BAM Nuttall, supported by the three councils, began in 2013.

Construction of the new railway involved extensive mining remediation, just under a million tonnes of earth moved, 30 miles of new railway and 90,000 sleepers laid, development of seven rail stations and six station car parks. 

The 35-mile line cost £294m (2012 prices). It is one of the biggest infrastructure projects delivered by the Scottish Government and is the longest domestic railway to be built in the UK in over 100 years.  

Passenger services began on 6 September 2015, with the official opening conducted by Her Majesty the Queen on 9 September (on the same day as she marked becoming Britain’s longest serving monarch).

The route runs between Edinburgh, Brunstane, Newcraighall, Shawfair, Eskbank, Newtongrange, Gorebridge, Stow, Galashiels and Tweedbank, with a total journey time of around 55m.

The Borders Railway is fully integrated with the national railway network. At Edinburgh, passengers can connect to services for the following destinations (with the approximate wait time for onward services shown):

  • Glasgow (20 minutes)
  • Newcastle/York/London (20-30 minutes)
  • Dundee/Aberdeen (30 minutes)
  • Inverness/Perth (10 minutes)
  • Fife (20-25 minutes)
  • North Berwick (15 minutes)