The new Borders Railway will see four new stations built in Midlothian and three in the Scottish Borders.
Trains will run every half hour at peak times and journey times between Tweedbank and Edinburgh will take less than one hour. The arrival of a fast and efficient rail link was proposed to connect communities together in the Scottish borders and Midlothian to Edinburgh, who currently have no direct access to a railway line.
Works commenced on site in early 2012 and is set for completion during summer 2015. Following site clearance, ground stabilisation works began in October 2012 on the Midlothian site on the route. This was carried out to prevent mine works from causing subsidence during construction or in the future. The main construction began in April 2013 and is currently progressing well along the whole route.
The introduction of the new stations was put in place with the notion that there were numerous benefits other than the obvious linking of towns and placing in direct rail line access. For example, dropping the carbon emissions significantly by reducing reliance on car travel and leading to helping to minimise congestion. This in turn, has also been estimated that the railway could cut on average, 6 road accidents per year.
Furthermore the arrival of the new stations is supporting circa £33m of benefits for the wider Scottish economy as well as increased business development and housing opportunities, inward investment and public sector relocation for the local community.
Customers will be able to access information at the ticket machines which all stations will provide, in addition to screens showing train times, help points and public address systems. The train timetable will be published in autumn 2014, and passenger services are currently scheduled to commence from autumn 2015.
The Borders Railway follows the route of the historic Waverly Railway line. Removed in 1969, the railway has since had some parts of the former track converted to paths and cycle routes. With the railway coming back into existence this means that some of those paths will be lost; however, to alleviate this Midlothian and Scottish Borders Councils are planning to spend approximately £2.5m to provide replacement paths and bicycle routes.
Following the passing of the Waverly Railway (Scotland) Act in 2006 developments on replacement paths has been ongoing. During the planning of the project, the station sites were given careful deliberation to ensure that they were conveniently situated to maximise their use. This meant including walking and cycling accessibility and interchange with bus services, not just for motorised traffic.
The project has been working with representatives from Sustrans, who have attended railway design meetings with council officers. Sustrans have spent some time exploring cycle parking within the stations, as well as pedestrian and cycle links with a view to assisting with developments of safe routes between communities and stations along the stretch of route.
For the first time in over 40 years, the £294m Borders Railway project will deliver a reinstated passenger link from the Scottish Borders and Midlothian to the national rail network. The new railway will be engineered so that electrification can be carried out in future years if desired.
Local tourism will be boosted as visitors from Edinburgh and beyond will utilise the enhanced transport network, visiting friends and planning a days out. It is expected that rail links will widen economic and housing opportunities, with the knock-on effect that businesses in the local area will see a boost in their levels of trade.
With a reputation as an ideal cycling destination, the Scottish Borders new trains operating on the route will provide more options to travel to the area with a bike. Additionally, cycle hoops at every station will also encourage more onward travel by bicycle.
The conclusion on which company will operate the rail franchise has not been decided upon as of yet, but will be chosen at a later date by the Scottish Government. All stations, trains and car parks will meet the terms with modern disability legislation, and step free access will be on hand at all stations.