Full steam ahead this summer
A STEAM train experience that features Scotland’s latest World Heritage Site and newest railway line returns to the timetable again this summer.
Passengers on the Scottish Railway Preservation Society’s Railtours steam special will have the opportunity to take in views of the new Queensferry Crossing as they cross the iconic Forth Rail Bridge from the Fife Coast to the Scottish Borders.
SRPS ran four Fife Coast to Scottish Borders trips in August 2017, each of which was sold out carrying a total of 1,600 people.
This year the Black Five steam locomotive will again travel along the Borders Railway when it makes its return to the route that takes in two of Scotland’s Great Scenic Rail Routes for a second year.
Passengers will be able to board the steam train in Linlithgow before travelling over the Forth Rail Bridge and round the Fife coast before heading south on the Borders Railway to Tweedbank every Sunday in August.
VisitScotland expects the steam experience to provide an important boost to the local economy in the Scottish Borders after it attracted thousands of visitors to the region last year and benefited local businesses and visitor attractions. As part of the Borders Railway Blueprint partnership, the national tourism organisation seeks to maximise benefits from the new Borders Railway.
VisitScotland Regional Leadership Director, Paula Ward, said: “The steam train special from Fife, through Edinburgh and travelling down the Borders Railway to Tweedbank last year proved a runaway success with many of the days completely selling out.
“It really is a fantastic opportunity to step back in time and enjoy a relaxing day out to the Scottish Borders, taking in the spectacular scenery and discover two of Scotland’s great scenic rail journeys.
“Without a doubt, passengers are in for an unforgettable day out – they can sit back and relax and take in the picturesque beauty of the Fife coast, the iconic Edinburgh Waverley station, with plenty to see and do when they arrive in the Scottish Borders – all topped off with quality local food and drink.
“The return of the steam train experience provides an important boost to the local economy and continues to shine the spotlight on the quality of tourism offering in these regions.”
The special steam excursions will operate on every Sunday in August. They depart from Linlithgow and cross the Unesco World Heritage Site, the Forth Rail Bridge, before travelling onto Kinghorn, Burntisland and Aberdour. After stopping at Dalgety Bay, the journey continues south over the Bridge once again to Edinburgh then along the 31-mile route of the Borders Railway to Galashiels and Tweedbank.
Passengers will be able to enjoy more than two hours in the Borders before the return journey, with additional trips to Melrose, Galashiels, Abbotsford House and local restaurants also available.
Scottish Borders Council’s Executive Member for Business and Economic Development, Councillor Mark Rowley, added: “We are delighted to work alongside SRPS and our Borders Railway Blueprint partners to bring back the steam train experience in 2018 after a hugely successful 2017.
“The fact that all four trips were sold out – bringing 1,600 people to the Scottish Borders – was testament to the offering by SRPS, which included spending the afternoon in our wonderful area with plenty to see and do, and quality local food and drink available.
“I am sure that the 2018 steam train days out will be another fantastic occasion on one of Scotland’s great scenic rail journeys.”
SRPS Railtours is a trading subsidiary of The Scottish Railway Preservation Society, charity which owns and maintains former British Rail coaches. The tours are organised and staffed by unpaid volunteers with proceeds from the railtours going to the charity to be used to restore rolling stock and locomotives of historical value.
The Black Five locomotive was designed by Sir William Stanier for the London, Midland & Scottish railway and a total of 842 were built between 1934 and 1951. The return journey will be diesel-hauled from Tweedbank to Newcraighall, where the train will be turned on Niddrie triangle so that it can be steam-hauled for the remainder of the return journey.
The trains will be operated by West Coast Railways.
For more information on the rail experiences and add-on ticketing offers to Abbotsford House, Melrose and Seasons in Gattonside, please visit: www.srps.org.uk/borders
For more information on Scotland’s Great Rail Journeys, visit: www.visitscotland.com/see-do/tours/railway/great-rail-journeys/