THE Borders Railway will be officially opened by the Queen on the day that she becomes Britain’s longest serving monarch.
Several days of celebrations will be held to mark the start of services on the line in September, kicking off with a Golden Ticket day of community events for those who have served the railway, both old and new, throughout its history.
And the centrepiece of the festival will be a Royal opening on Wednesday, September 9, where the Queen will be joined by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to take an historic steam journey along the route with celebrations at either end.
Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure Keith Brown said: “It is a great honour for us that Her Majesty has chosen to mark this milestone by leading the celebrations for the opening of the Borders Railway.
“The people of the Borders and Midlothian have waited almost half a century to see the return of their railway and it is fitting that these two such historic events coincide.
“This will be a double celebration and we are also ensuring that the people who have campaigned, worked hard and shown such patience throughout this process are able to play a full part in the celebrations, with a separate day dedicated just to them.”
The news comes with just a month to go until the new railway opens, on time and on budget.
It is the longest domestic railway to be built in the UK in over 100 years.
The Queen and Prince Philip will arrive at Waverley Station in Edinburgh to board the train drawn by the steam locomotive Union of South Africa on the morning of Wednesday, September 9, and will travel the route, stopping off at Newtongrange in Midlothian before carrying on to the final stop on the new railway at the Scottish Borders town of Tweedbank.
Phil Verster, managing director of the ScotRail Alliance, said: “We are thrilled that Her Majesty The Queen will open the new Borders Railway on such a special day for the Royal family.
“The Borders Railway will open up Midlothian and the Borders to so many more opportunities including tourism, leisure, work and education, and marking the opening of the line with a Royal visit really is wonderful.
“This will be a truly historical day and we’re honoured to share it with Her Majesty.”
Councillor Graham Garvie, Convener of Scottish Borders Council, said:
“The Borders Railway is the most significant project for generations in our region and we are thrilled to welcome Her Majesty The Queen to formally open the railway.
“The fact that this occasion coincides with Her Majesty becoming Britain’s longest serving monarch makes it unique in the history of the Borders.”