September 6th 2015 saw the culmination of one of the most remarkable transformations in British railway history – and one of the greatest achievements of grassroots rail campaigning. When ScotRail train services began running over the 30.3 route miles of the new Borders Railway between Newcraighall (in south east Edinburgh) and Tweedbank (between Galashiels and Melrose), this became the longest railway to have been built in Scotland since the Fort William-Mallaig line in 1901 – and the longest rail re-opening project in British history.
The Scottish Borders has lost its unwanted status as the only region of Britain without a train service, and public transport journey times from 'Gala' – the largest town in the Borders – to Edinburgh have been slashed from a minimum of 83 minutes by bus to 55 minutes or less by train.
This considerable achievement owes much to the efforts of a dedicated band of rail campaigners, spearheaded from 1999 onwards by the Campaign for Borders Rail (CBR). CBR has now realised its initial objective, but the campaign goes on – for important upgrades to the new railway and for extension southwards to Hawick (the town which suffered the most from the loss of the old Waverley Route in 1969) and on to Carlisle.