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Borders Railway winter progress

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Tracklaying on the Borders Railway should be completed by February allowing driver training to start this summer. David Shirres reports. When the Waverley route between Edinburgh and Carlisle closed in 1969, the Borders region became the largest in the UK without a rail link. This is about to change with the re-opening of the northern section of this line in September 2015 which will be the UK’s longest new domestic railway for over a hundred years.


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October start

Borders project tracklaying started in October last year. With track being laid at the rate of 1.2 kilometres a day, it took less than a month from the start of track laying for the new rails to cross into the Scottish Borders on 5 November. This was marked by a small ceremony at which Border’s Council leader David Parker and its chief executive, Tracey Logan, were present along with Ken MacGillivray, Network Rail’s project manager for this section of the railway. With the new railway running close to the A7 road for most of its route, the tracklaying train is a highly visible sign of progress. The train reached Stow on 24 November, a further eight miles into the Borders. Here primary school children were allowed onto Stow’s partially completed station to get a close view of track laying. Beyond the station, spectators in fields observed the train’s progress.


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God created the Dutch

The tracklaying uses plant from BAM Rail in Holland. This is attached to the rail delivery train to pull rails off it and lay them on top of sleepers that have already been put in place. Scottish and Dutch flags adorn this plant which bears the inscription: ‘For the finishing touch, God created the Dutch.’ Sadly in November a track worker was seriously injured as a result of a sleeper breaking free. As a result, the project decided to stand down the site for five days to ensure lessons were learnt before work resumed. At the Christmas break, track had been laid on three quarters of the route with tracklaying scheduled to restart on 12 January for completion early in February. This revised timescale for tracklaying does not impact on project completion and by mid-summer the line will be ready for driver training. Then, after a gap of nearly 47 years, train services to the Borders will resume on 6 September.

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