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
Line length 98.25 mi (158.12 km)
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Route map
Waverley Line 1969 en.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(1942-1961)
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; 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 on 6 September 2015.[1][2]



The Edinburgh and Dalkeith Railway was authorised on 26 May 1826 as tramway to carry coal from colleries near Edinburgh to the Firth of Forth at Fisherrow and, later, Leith.[3] Built to 4 ft 6 in gauge, it opened between St Leonards and Eskbank on 4 July 1831, with branches to Arniston and Dalkeith opening in 1832 and 1835 respectively.[3] The company enjoyed success and was acquired by the North British Railway (NBR) in October 1845 for £113,000.[3][4]

The NBR, which had been established the previous year,[5] planned to extend their new line to Galashiels and paid £1,200 to buy out the independent Galashiels Railway project.[6] The directors of the NBR quickly decided to continue the line to Hawick and obtained Parliamentary authorisation to incorporate the Edinburgh and Hawick Railway on 31 July 1845.[7] Although nominally independent, the company had £400,000 of its capital subscribed by NBR directors and the shares, each bearing a 4% guarantee, were to be transferred to NBR shareholders after incorporation.[7] The line opened on 1 November 1849.[7]

The NBR's original intention had been to reach Carlisle in order to establish a cross-border link with the Lancaster and Carlisle Railway, however available funds would not allow for such plans.[7] It was only on 21 July 1859 that the NBR received approval to construct the Border Union Railway to reach Carlisle.[8] The London and North Western Railway, which had been working the Lancaster and Carlisle since 1857,[9] sought to hinder the NBR's access to Carlisle but the Scottish company circumvented the blockade by leasing the Carlisle and Silloth Bay Railway.[10] The extension opened throughout to passengers on 1 July 1862.[10][11]

Topography and construction[edit]

Naming and early years[edit]

The Waverley Route between England and Scotland, The Waverley is the most interesting and attractive, and is the only Route which enables the Tourist to visit Melrose (for Melrose Abbey and Abbotsford) and St Boswells (for Dryburgh Abbey)

North British Railway advertisement, Black's Where Shall We Go (1877).[12]

The name Waverley Route first appeared in NBR minute books towards the end of 1862 and, although no indication exists as to how it was chosen or who was responsible, it was inspired by the Waverley Novels by Sir Walter Scott who lived at Abbotsford House near the route of the line.[12][11] Scott's portrait often adorned posters and timetables and the Scott Monument in Edinburgh became the route's leitmotif.[11] The first class of locomotive specially built for the line, Drummond's 4-4-0 of 1876, were known as the Abbotsford Class, No. 479 bearing the name so closely associated with Scott.[11][13]

On the same day that the Carlisle extension was opened, services also began running on the Border Counties Railway.[11][14] It branched off the Waverley Route at Riccarton Junction and ran south to join the Newcastle and Carlisle Railway at Hexham.[14] This provided the NBR with a connection to Newcastle and the East Coast line over North Eastern Railway (NER) metals.[15] The NER extracted a high price from the NBR in the form of running rights from Berwick-upon-Tweed to Edinburgh which were fully exercised by the NER, thereby reducing greatly the role of the Scottish company on the East Coast line.[15]


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.[16]

Infrastructure and services[edit]

Line characteristics[edit]

From Edinburgh Waverley, the climb started on the city outskirts, continued for several miles at a gradient of 1 in 70, with a summit at Falahill loop. It then descended at typically 1 in 150 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.[17][18]

Passenger services[edit]

Goods workings[edit]

Motive power and sheds[edit]


Waverley Route Heritage Association[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 been relaid by the Waverley Route Heritage Association (WRHA) as part of the Border Union Railway (Whitrope) heritage railway. [19] This has since been extended from Whitrope Tunnel for about 0.8 miles (1,300 m). [20] A heritage centre has been built at Whitrope as part of the WRHA activities. [21] 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. [22] 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.[19]

Borders Railway project[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.[23] £115 million has been allocated for the proposed route and services, which will extend an existing Edinburgh suburban service[24] 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.[25][26] 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.[27][28] In November 2009, it was announced that the reopening would be delayed for another year.[29] 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.[30][31]

On 27 March 2010, it was announced that tendering was underway; three bids were received in June 2010.[32] The winning bids were to be announced in September 2011. The final cost was estimated at between £235 million and £295 million.[33] The tender process was scrapped on 29 September 2011 and the line will now be built by Network Rail.[34] Network Rail began work on the Edinburgh-Tweedbank section on 6 November 2012.[35] In 2012, the line was scheduled to reopen to passenger traffic in 2015.[36] 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.[37]

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.[38] 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.[39]

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".[40] 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.[41] 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.[42]



  1. ^ Network Rail Timetable, May 2015
  2. ^ "Borders Railway". Transport Scotland. Retrieved 2015-03-17. 
  3. ^ a b c Awdry (1990), p. 128.
  4. ^ Caplan (1985), p. 8.
  5. ^ Awdry (1990), p. 152.
  6. ^ Awdry (1990), pp. 128-129.
  7. ^ a b c d Awdry (1990), p. 129.
  8. ^ Awdry (1990), pp. 118-119.
  9. ^ Awdry (1990), p. 86.
  10. ^ a b Awdry (1990), p. 119.
  11. ^ a b c d e Thomas (1981), p. 60.
  12. ^ a b Caplan (1985), p. 5.
  13. ^ "The Drummond D27 & D28 (NBR Class M) 'Abbotsford' 4-4-0 Locomotives". The LNER Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2015-05-25. 
  14. ^ a b Awdry (1990), p. 118.
  15. ^ a b Caplan (1985), p. 9.
  16. ^ "Blog and News Articles". Scotjobsnet.co.uk. Retrieved 2015-05-03. 
  17. ^ "Maps & Gradients | Waverley Route Heritage Association". Wrha.org.uk. Retrieved 2015-05-03. 
  18. ^ "Image of gradients on route" (JPG). Wrha2.files.wordpress.com. Retrieved 2015-05-03. 
  19. ^ a b "Border Union Railway | Waverley Route Heritage Association". Wrha.org.uk. 2012-07-01. Retrieved 2015-05-03. 
  20. ^ "February Track Weekend | Waverley Route Heritage Association". Waverleyrouteha.wordpress.com. 2015-02-10. Retrieved 2015-05-03. 
  21. ^ "Whitrope Heritage Centre | Waverley Route Heritage Association". Wrha.org.uk. Retrieved 2015-05-03. 
  22. ^ "Open Weekend & Official Opening | Waverley Route Heritage Association". Waverleyrouteha.wordpress.com. Retrieved 2015-05-03. 
  23. ^ "UK | Scotland | South of Scotland | Borders railway link bill passed". News.bbc.co.uk. 2006-06-14. Retrieved 2015-05-03. 
  24. ^ Not to be confused with the former Edinburgh "suburban line".
  25. ^ "UK | Scotland | South of Scotland | Waverley line assessment starts". News.bbc.co.uk. 2007-03-27. Retrieved 2015-05-03. 
  26. ^ "UK | Scotland | South of Scotland | Protesters set sights on Holyrood". News.bbc.co.uk. 2006-05-18. Retrieved 2015-05-03. 
  27. ^ "'Defining moment' as government agency takes reins of Waverley Line". Thesouthernreporter.co.uk. Retrieved 2015-05-03. 
  28. ^ "UK | Scotland | South of Scotland | Timetable set for Borders railway". News.bbc.co.uk. 2008-08-06. Retrieved 2015-05-03. 
  29. ^ "UK | Scotland | South of Scotland | Rail reopening faces fresh delay". News.bbc.co.uk. 2009-11-03. Retrieved 2015-05-03. 
  30. ^ "Borders to Edinburgh rail link project gets under way". News.bbc.co.uk. 2010-03-04. Retrieved 2015-05-03. 
  31. ^ "Hopes rise in the Borders as work starts on rail link". Heraldscotland.com. 2010-03-04. Retrieved 2015-05-03. 
  32. ^ "Borders Railway moves closer to reality" (PDF). Railway Herald (228). 28 June 2010. p. 6. Retrieved 29 June 2010. 
  33. ^ "Scottish rebuild progress". Railway Gazette. 27 March 2010. Retrieved 29 June 2010. 
  34. ^ "Borders rail link tender process scrapped". BBC News. 29 September 2011. Retrieved 12 October 2011. 
  35. ^ 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. 
  36. ^ Dalton, Alastair. "Borders railway completion date put back as cost of project soars". The Scotsman. Retrieved 10 November 2012. 
  37. ^ Henderson, Damien (14 December 2012). "Borders Railway builders appointed". The Herald. Retrieved 14 December 2012. 
  38. ^ "Bat flaps used to help clear Galashiels railway tunnel". BBC Scotland. 5 September 2013. Retrieved 5 September 2013. 
  39. ^ Dinwoodie, Robbie (2 March 2013). "Warning £350m rail link not economically viable". The Herald (Herald & Times Group). Retrieved 26 April 2013. 
  40. ^ Please enter your username (2014-04-25). "Alex Salmond may reopen Waverley rail link - Edinburgh Evening News". Edinburghnews.scotsman.com. Retrieved 2015-05-03. 
  41. ^ Alastair Dalton (2014-04-29). "Borders Railway cuts ‘could hold back development’". Scotsman.com. Retrieved 2015-05-03. 
  42. ^ "Borders to Edinburgh railway: Track laying gets under way". BBC News. BBC. 9 October 2014. Retrieved 12 October 2014. 


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

External video
Network Rail - Borders Railway Construction