Driving forward Borders Rail

Transport Minister Keith Brown today visited the iconic Lothianbridge Viaduct to meet the drivers recruited to run train services on the Borders Railway.

Lothianburn Viaduct1

The trainee drivers, all from the Borders area, are currently midway through the training schedule which will see them operate the first trains to run from the Borders in over 40 years.

Mr Brown said:

“This month marks one year since Network Rail took over the construction of the Borders Railway and there is now activity along the entire length of the 30 mile route and at the stations being constructed.

"The people of the Borders are really seeing their railway take shape and I’m delighted to now be able to introduce to them the drivers who will take charge of those services carrying them to new jobs, bringing new investment opportunities to their towns and countless other benefits.

“The Scottish Government has a strong record in investing in schemes which deliver crucial social benefits for communities, as well as for the wider Scottish economy.

“Borders Rail is no different. We recognise infrastructure investment as a vital driver in revitalising communities and providing employment opportunities. By encouraging public transport use we improve our environment and the nation’s health too. The people of the Borders and Midlothian will reap the immediate benefits of this project, but the Scottish population as a whole will also see the rewards.

“These recruits are undertaking an intensive training regime and I am honoured that they could make the time to come along and help us celebrate the continued progress of this exciting project.”

More than 2,200 applications were received for the traineeships.

The successful candidates include a blacksmith, a welder, an airport postman, a mechanic and a former Lance Corporal in the Armed Forces amongst others and hail from a variety of Borders towns including Galashiels, Hawick, Melrose and Selkirk. They will work alongside eight existing ScotRail drivers on the service.

During the year-long driving training programme, the trainees undertake 16 different modules including 265 hours of train handling with a driver instructor. Each trainee is assessed at 40 hours, 125 hours, 200 hours and finally, at 225 hours on each of the trains which ScotRail operates.

The drivers will first take to the tracks of the Borders Railway once it is complete in summer 2015 for 12 weeks of route and timetable training before the service gets underway.

ScotRail managing director, Steve Montgomery, said:

“We received more than 2,200 applications for trainee driver jobs and are confident that the 10 new recruits are of the highest calibre, with the essential mix of experience, good concentration and mature attitude required to be a successful train driver.

“Coming from the Borders themselves, they know the positive impact which the return of rail services to the area will have on local communities.”