Waverley Line

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Waverley Line
Lothianbridge viaduct01 2000-05-28.jpg
Newbattle (or Lothianbridge) viaduct
Type Urban rail proposal
System National Rail
Status Disused, scheduled for partial re-opening
Locale Edinburgh, Midlothian & Borders, Scotland; Carlisle, England, UK
Termini Edinburgh Waverley
Opening 1849
Closed 1969 (under re-construction; partial re-opening 2015)
Owner Network Rail
Operator(s) Abellio ScotRail
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Route map
Waverley Line.png
Waverley Route
Edinburgh Waverley
(Edinburgh Trams St Andrew Square)
Jock's Lodge
East Coast Main Line
Edinburgh Suburban and
Southside Junction Railway
Millerhill Marshalling Yard
Shawfair(new Borders Railway)
East Coast Main Line
Edinburgh, Loanhead
and Roslin Railway
Macmerry Branch (NBR)
Peebles Railway
Newbattle/Lothianbridge Viaduct
Lauder Light Railway
Peebles Railway
Selkirk Line
Tweedbank(new Borders Railway)
to Duns
St. Boswells
Kelso Line
to Tweedmouth and Jedburgh
Charlesfield Halt
Shankend Viaduct
Border Union Railway
Caledonian Railway Main Line
Caldew Junction
Lancaster and Carlisle Railway

The Waverley Line is an abandoned double track railway line in Great Britain that ran south from Edinburgh, through Midlothian and the Scottish Borders, to Carlisle. The line was built by the North British Railway Company; the stretch from Edinburgh to Hawick opened in 1849 and the remainder to Carlisle opened in 1862. The line was named after a series of novels by Sir Walter Scott.

Reconstruction work on the Edinburgh-Galashiels-Tweedbank section of the railway is under way; as of 2014 this part of the line is scheduled to reopen in Autumn 2015.[1]

Line characteristics[edit]

In its operational lifetime, the route was famous for its significant gradients and bleak moorland terrain, which made it arguably the most difficult line in the UK for steam locomotive crews to work over. From Edinburgh Waverley, the climb started on the city outskirts, continued for several miles at a gradient of 1 in 80, with a summit at Falahill loop. It then descended at a similar rate to Galashiels, Melrose and St Boswells before reaching Hawick and climbing for 12 mi (19 km) at 1 in 80 through Stobs and Shankend to Whitrope Summit—the highest point on the line. After passing through Whitrope Tunnel, the line descended at an unbroken 1 in 75 for over 8 mi (13 km) through Riccarton Junction and Steele Road to Newcastleton, after which came less-steep gradients into Carlisle. (Unfortunately, the map shows the line south of Hawick going by Ewesdale and Langholm ~ the direction that the unsuccessful Caledonian Railway route had planned.)

Historic exploration[edit]

Because the line was built by the North British Railway Company, it became part of the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) at the Grouping in 1923. The two express trains from London traditionally ran via the Midland Railway's Midland Main Line; because the Midland became part of the London Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS) group, the daytime Waverley express and overnight sleeping car trains were hauled by LMS locomotives to Carlisle, then by LNER locomotives to Edinburgh Waverley.

The expresses were limited stop services; in the 1950s they travelled from Carlisle to Edinburgh in about two-and-a-half hours. Motive power was usually provided by a Gresley A3 Pacific locomotive, a class unsuited to hill climbing. These locomotives had large driving wheels and three cylinders; they were designed for long stretches at speeds above 80 mph (130 km/h) pulling heavy expresses. The Waverley express typically comprised eight coaches and the Waverley Route had a maximum speed of 70 mph (110 km/h); many tight curves were limited to much lower speeds. On the climb from Newcastleton to Whitrope Summit, the train would slow to 30 mph (50 km/h) by Steele Road; the locomotive was worked flat out.

Other passenger services—usually three per day—were also worked by A3s, although Thompson B1 4-6-0s were used regularly. There was a daily Gresley A4 diagram between Edinburgh and Carlisle—a southbound, overnight freight service that returned with the early morning parcels train. Thompson Pacifics were used just before the line was dieselised to improve efficiency. Several local passenger services ran between Galashiels and Edinburgh—some via the Peebles loop—and between Hawick and Carlisle. These were commonly hauled by B1s, although V1 2-6-2 tank engines and D49 4-4-0s were occasionally used. After the end of the steam era, a variety of diesels—especially Class 24 and 26 Sulzer-engined diesels and Class 17 Claytons on local stopping passenger services. Long-distance trains were often hauled by Class 45 Peaks.

A black-and-white photograph of two steam trains in a railway station
Waverley trains at Carlisle station in 1960;4MT (left), A2 (right).

Freight workings were heavy and frequent, and were hauled by a multitude of classes of engines. The significant workings were pulled by Gresley V2 2-6-2s, Gresley K3 2-6-0s and A3s. V2s were used on the line for over 30 years. In the 1960s, once the short-lived marshalling yards at Carlisle Kingmoor and Edinburgh Millerhill were opened, they worked hourly freight trains around the clock. Depending on the maximum speed of the freight working, a Carlisle to Edinburgh freight train could take between four and seven hours. There were also stopping freight trains from Hawick to Edinburgh and Hawick to Carlisle and back, each stopped to shunt at every station yard and took a full day to complete the return journey. These were usually hauled by J39 0-6-0 locomotives and were later replaced with BR standard class 4 2-6-0s.

In the last years of its use, a daily Halewood (Liverpool) to Bathgate freight train carried Ford cars over the line on carflats. Because of the weight of the load, the service used a Gresley V2 and a Stanier Class 5 double-headed locomotive, usually with the V2 on the front.

Line closure and beyond[edit]

Passenger services on the Waverley Line were proposed for withdrawal as part of the Beeching cuts of the 1960s. On 17 August 1966, British Railways gave formal notice to close the line from 2 January 1967; closure notices were posted at all stations on the line. 508 official objections against the closure were lodged within the required six weeks of the closure notice being issued. A reprieve was announced and the closure was frozen pending review; a public hearing was held in Hawick on 16 and 17 November 1967. On 15 July 1968, the Minister for Transport, Richard Marsh, gave the final order that the line would close on Monday, 6 January 1969. A public outcry ensued and a high-profile campaign to save the line followed. A petition was delivered to 10 Downing Street on 18 December 1968, but this did not prevent the closure of the line.

The last passenger train (and the last train to traverse the entire route) was 1M82 21.56 Edinburgh Waverley - London St Pancras sleeper on 5 January 1969, which was hauled by Class 45 D60 "Lytham St Annes". Emotions were running high along the route on the final weekend of passenger operations. Protesters were evident at most stations and the authorities, sensing the potential for trouble, sent a Clayton 'pilot' engine ahead of 1M82 under caution from Hawick to 'prove' the route south after a set of points at Whitrope was tampered with. At Newcastleton, the pilot engine found the line was blocked and the level crossing gates had been locked by protesters. The disturbances led to the arrest of the local minister, who was released after David Steel MP—who was travelling on the sleeper—negotiated with the police and addressed the protesters. This caused 1M82 to arrive two hours late in Carlisle.

On the afternoon of 8 January at Riddings Junction, BR staged a tracklifting 'ceremony' for the press to split the London Midland and Scottish Regions, demonstrating their determination to dismantle the route. After the passage of 1M82, the line was formally closed to passengers and the line between Hawick and Longtown closed completely and came under engineers' possession for dismantling. The Up line between Lady Victoria Pit and Hawick was not used after 6 January.

Contracts with the coal industry forced British Rail to freight traffic between Millerhill and Galashiels, and between St. Boswells and Hawick until Friday, 25 April 1969. This was a daily service carrying mainly coal traffic from Lady Victoria Pit and oil tank wagons to St Boswells. The signalling was drastically reduced after passenger closure with 'one train working' by 'telephone and notice board' over the down line from Lady Victoria Pit to Hawick. At that time, the 42 miles 1,078 yards (68.578 km) block section between Lady Victoria Pit and Hawick over the down line was the longest on the British railway network. A signalman travelled with the daily train from Lady Victoria Pit south and returned to operate the still-open boxes and operate levers for sidings.

On 28 April 1969 traffic was cut back to Lady Victoria Pit, which survived until December 1971 when the line was further cut back to Newtongrange at Butlerfield Washery, which in turn survived until June 1972. At the southern end of the route, the line between Carlisle Kingmoor and Longtown remained open to traffic until 31 August 1970, when it was cut back to Brunthill. As of 2014 the section between Carlisle Kingmoor and Brunthill remains open and is used by periodic freight traffic although the remaining portion of the route is little more than a long siding.

Tracklifting was temporarily halted in early 1969 while negotiations with British Rail were held to discuss the sale of infrastructure to a private consortium, The Border Union Railway Co. Options to keep the route open—such as singling large sections and reducing the number of signal boxes, and a 'basic' DMU service between Edinburgh from Hawick—were discussed, but these disucussions were fruitless. British Rail ceased negotiations on 23 December 1969 and formally announced this to the press on 6 January 1970 after requesting interest payments to keep the infrastructure 'in situ' while funding for the approximately £750,000 capital required was sought. Local authorities were also approached to pay for a basic passenger train service; but this too received no support.

There was a two-year moratorium on disposal of the land on the route, which was part of the closure process agreed to by the Minister. Until this point, tracklifting had been limited to 'singling' sections of line, but work to dismantle the railway recommenced in November 1969. An inspection saloon ran over the route on 1 April 1970 to allow contractors to bid for the demolition work. Track lifting started in earnest and trains could be seen dismantling the line. The Down line between Hawick and Longtown was lifted by April 1971, the Up line was lifted in February 1970, and the entire route between Longtown to Newtongrange was removed by early 1972. The final stretch between Newtongrange and Millerhill was closed on 28 June 1972 and was removed soon after. There exists photographic evidence of tracklifting at Eskbank in October 1972 and documentary evidence that track was still being lifted by September that year. By the end of 1972, only stubs at the north and south end of the route remained, and still exist as of 2014.

The last train to cross Hawick station viaduct did so on 18 April 1971. Hauled by D3880 (08713), it was lifting the line behind it. Hawick South signal box was demolished on 13 July 1972, while work on dismantling the station buildings and goods shed started on 20 January 1975. Demolition of the viaduct over the River Teviot commenced on 1 September 1975. After the closure and lifting of the line, the parcels office at Hawick and Galashiels remained open; British Rail carried parcel traffic by road for a few more years. In the late 1990s there was some discussion about reopening the southern section from Carlisle as far as Riccarton Junction. With the trees in the reforested areas of Kielder Forest now approaching maturity, the network of minor roads and the local population were seen as vulnerable to, and unable to cope with, significantly increased logging traffic. Reinstating a single track railway was seen to provide transport capacity for heavy loads bypassing the villages, but the project was not pursued any further.

Cut off from Edinburgh to the north and Carlisle to the south, those lacking a car had no option but to travel by bus. As of 2014, the main bus service to Edinburgh takes more time than a Victorian steam train and double the time of a commuter train in 1968. Without the new Borders Railway, commuters can spend up to 90 minutes travelling between Galashiels and Edinburgh.[2]

Heritage activities[edit]

Riccarton Junction railway station in 2007

At Whitrope Siding, just short of Whitrope Tunnel 12 miles (19 km) south of Hawick, track panels have has have been relaid by the Waverley Route Heritage Association (WRHA) as part of the Border Union Railway (Whitrope) heritage railway. This has since been extended from Whitrope Tunnel for about 0.8 miles (1,300 m). A heritage centre has been built at Whitrope as part of the WRHA activities. The track panels laid at the site of Riccarton Junction had been lifted by 2011. The Heritage Centre had two open days in July 2010, when it was officially opened by local MP and the new Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore and veteran Borders rail campaigner Madge Elliot, who led the campaign to save the Waverley Route in the late 1960s. WRHA has a small shunter and has included cab rides with passenger trains, which ran from 2012—the first traction to move on the line since its closure.[3]

Line restoration[edit]

Site of Tynehead Station, 6 April 2013
Trees have been cut back as construction has started on the rebuilding of the Waverley Line. The station will not be reopened.

In June 2006, the Waverley Railway (Scotland) Act was passed by the Scottish Parliament by 114 votes to 1. It will reopen the line as far as Tweedbank, just south of Galashiels, and was given Royal Assent in July 2006.[4] £115 million has been allocated for the proposed route and services, which will extend an existing Edinburgh suburban service[5] from Newcraighall to Shawfair, Eskbank, Newtongrange, Gorebridge, Stow, Galashiels and Tweedbank.

On 27 March 2007, Transport Minister Nicol Stephen formally initiated preparatory works. Vegetation clearance took place for construction to begin in 2009 with the first trains due to run in 2011.[6][7] In August 2008, the opening was delayed. Tendering was scheduled to start in 2009 and continue until 2010, groundwork would begin in early 2011 and trains would be running by early 2013.[8][9] In November 2009, it was announced that the reopening would be delayed for another year.[10] On 3 March 2010, Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson turned the project's first sod in Galashiels. This and the beginning of ancillary works marked the official start of restoration, activated the Waverley Rail Act that allows the scheme to be built, and formally triggered a clause in the Act committing the Scottish Government to complete the scheme within five years.[11][12]

On 27 March 2010, it was announced that tendering was underway; three bids were received in June 2010.[13] The winning bids were to be announced in September 2011. The final cost was estimated at between £235 million and £295 million.[14] The tender process was scrapped on 29 September 2011 and the line will now be built by Network Rail.[15] Network Rail began work on the Edinburgh-Tweedbank section on 6 November 2012.[16] In 2012, the line was scheduled to reopen to passenger traffic in 2015.[17] In December 2012, BAM Nuttall, a subsidiary of the Dutch Royal BAM Group, was appointed to build the 30-mile (50 km) stretch of track from Edinburgh to Tweedbank. The budget has risen from £295 million to £348 million and up to 500 jobs are expected to be created.[18]

In 2011, a survey of Bowshanks tunnel north of Galasheils found that the site had become used as a temporary roost by Soprano pipistrelle and Mouse-eared bats. After agreement with and subsequent licensing from Scottish Natural Heritage, new wooden roosts were installed in trees either side of the tunnel and one-way flaps were installed inside the tunnel to allow the bats to leave before renovation work began.[19] In 2013, concerns that the project was no longer economically viable were raised because of the failure of a local property boom, which meant a large drop in projected passenger numbers. A business case by consultants Ernst & Young said the economic spin-off would amount to half of the return on the current estimated outlay of £350 million. Scottish Government agency Transport Scotland said the project remained on course to generate benefits of up to 30% greater than its costs.[20]

In April 2014, Alex Salmond said the Scottish government would consider reopening the entire length of the Waverley Line to Carlisle; he said, "the success of the 30-mile stretch to just south of Galashiels would 'calibrate' a feasibility study into rebuilding the remaining 70 miles".[21] Concerns about the feasibility of an extension have recently been raised by campaigners, who have criticised Transport Scotland for failing to 'future-proof' the route.[22] Track laying began in October 2014, with the final piece of relaid track being clipped into place at Tweedbank Station on 12 February 2015. The line is expected to reopen on 6 September 2015.[23]

References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ Dalton, Alastair (6 November 2012). "Borders railway completion date put back as cost of project soars". The Scotsman. Retrieved 30 March 2013. 
  2. ^ The re-opening of the Waverley line economic and employment potential
  3. ^ Waverley Route Heritage Association
  4. ^ Borders railway link bill passed
  5. ^ Not to be confused with the former Edinburgh "suburban line".
  6. ^ Waverley line assessment starts
  7. ^ Protesters set sights on Holyrood
  8. ^ 'Defining moment' as government agency takes reins of Waverley Line
  9. ^ Timetable set for Borders railway
  10. ^ Rail reopening faces fresh delay
  11. ^ Borders to Edinburgh rail link project gets under way
  12. ^ Hopes rise in the Borders as work starts on rail link
  13. ^ "Borders Railway moves closer to reality" (PDF). Railway Herald (228). 28 June 2010. p. 6. Retrieved 29 June 2010. 
  14. ^ "Scottish rebuild progress". Railway Gazette. 27 March 2010. Retrieved 29 June 2010. 
  15. ^ "Borders rail link tender process scrapped". BBC News. 29 September 2011. Retrieved 12 October 2011. 
  16. ^ Carrell, Severin (5 November 2012). "Scottish Borders boost as line shut in 1960s moves step closer to reopening". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 10 November 2012. 
  17. ^ Dalton, Alastair. "Borders railway completion date put back as cost of project soars". The Scotsman. Retrieved 10 November 2012. 
  18. ^ Henderson, Damien (14 December 2012). "Borders Railway builders appointed". The Herald. Retrieved 14 December 2012. 
  19. ^ "Bat flaps used to help clear Galashiels railway tunnel". BBC Scotland. 5 September 2013. Retrieved 5 September 2013. 
  20. ^ Dinwoodie, Robbie (2 March 2013). "Warning £350m rail link not economically viable". The Herald (Herald & Times Group). Retrieved 26 April 2013. 
  21. ^ http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/news/transport/alex-salmond-may-reopen-waverley-rail-link-1-3388339
  22. ^ http://www.scotsman.com/news/transport/borders-railway-cuts-could-hold-back-development-1-3392993
  23. ^ "Borders to Edinburgh railway: Track laying gets under way". BBC News. BBC. 9 October 2014. Retrieved 12 October 2014. 

External links[edit]

External video
Network Rail - Borders Railway Construction