The scheme is on course for the first training engines to run on the 30-mile railway next June and passenger services beginning 12 weeks later.

Preparations for the opening celebrations next September are progressing well following First Minister Alex Salmond’s announcement last summer that an iconic steam engine would be the centrepiece of the event launching the longest new domestic railway constructed in Britain for over 100 years.

The First Minister is now calling on the people who will most benefit from the new railway to give it an opening celebration that will be remembered for years to come. And to take their chance to secure a special Golden Ticket for the first ever journey on the new line.

Speaking ahead of the Cabinet meeting in Selkirk tomorrow, the First Minister said:

“This time next year we’ll be seeing trains running on this line for the first time in almost half a century.

“The Borders Railway will be much more than a simple transport link – it will be a direct line to jobs, investment, social opportunities and tourism.

“It is a project which will rejuvenate Midlothian and the Borders and will see both areas compete with their neighbour in Edinburgh, bolstering Scotland’s economy as a whole. And there will be improved bus links to ensure that towns in the Borders not directly on the railway still benefit from its reopening.

“The railway itself will compete with some of the finest tourist rail journeys in the world and has already attracted huge interest.

“It is worthy of an opening celebration which reflects this and I want to make sure the communities served by the railway get the party they want and deserve, including getting the opportunity for one of those sought-after seats on that historic steam engine trip.

“Transport Scotland and partners have formed a Borders Railway Opening Celebrations Committee to look after the administration around this event.

“But I’m now calling on the people of the Borders, Midlothian and Edinburgh to be the party planners and let us know how they would like to mark the opening of the railway - what kind of celebration do you want?

“This is also a great opportunity for people to consider getting involved in a Community Rail Partnership for the area, which the Scottish Government is helping establish in communities throughout the country.

“This event should be an event for the people of the Borders, Midlothian and Edinburgh. I want to see the best of these areas on show and a celebration involving local people, schoolchildren, community groups and ensuring it will be a day that will stay long in the memory. I want these communities to tell us how we should mark this fantastic event, and every idea submitted will be entered into a draw for a Golden Ticket for that inaugural journey.”

Notes to editors

Groups and individuals can now submit their ideas for the Borders Railway opening celebrations, and enter the draw for one of 10 tickets for the steam train journey, at or via a form which can be obtained by phoning Transport Scotland on 0141 272 7424.

Transport Scotland is the national transport agency for Scotland, delivering the Scottish Government's vision for transport.

Further details of the Borders Railway project can be found here -

Details of Community Rail Partnerships and how to set one up can be found here –

Published 22 Jun 2014