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[update], 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.
At Whitrope Siding, just short of Whitrope Tunnel 12 miles (19 km) south of Hawick, track panels 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 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.
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. 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. In November 2009, it was announced that the reopening would be delayed for another year. 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.
On 27 March 2010, it was announced that tendering was underway; three bids were received in June 2010. The winning bids were to be announced in September 2011. The final cost was estimated at between £235 million and £295 million. The tender process was scrapped on 29 September 2011 and the line will now be built by Network Rail. Network Rail began work on the Edinburgh-Tweedbank section on 6 November 2012. In 2012, the line was scheduled to reopen to passenger traffic in 2015. 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.
In 2011, a survey of Bowshanks tunnel north of Galashiels 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. 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.
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". 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. 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.