Happy birthday to the Borders Railway

A train on the Borders rail line passes Newtongrange. Picture: Ian Georgeson
A train on the Borders rail line passes Newtongrange. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Two years after it was re-opened, the Borders Railway shows no sign of losing momentum as it continues to capture the world’s attention and boost local tourism.

VisitScotland’s international marketing campaign to promote the Borders Railway has reached almost 35 million people in the past two years, helping to inspire visitors to explore attractions along the line including in Midlothian.

Facts and figures about the Borders Railway

Facts and figures about the Borders Railway

Over 2.6 million people have travelled on the Borders Railway, and last month a unique experience offering passengers, for the first time, the opportunity to board a steam train in West Lothian and Fife to cross the Forth Bridge and onwards to the new Borders Railway proved a phenomenal success, with 1680 passengers taking the journey over just four days.

The 31-mile Borders Railway route stretching from Edinburgh Waverley to Tweedbank was officially opened by HM The Queen on September 9, 2015. The second anniversary coincided with the opening of the Queensferry Crossing. As with the Borders Railway, the bridge has been a catalyst for employment and other economic opportunities.

As part of the Borders Railway Blueprint partnership, VisitScotland seeks to maximize benefits from the new Borders Railway, with £367,000 invested in a three-year national and international marketing campaign to put the new railway on the map.

The funding was provided by Scottish Borders Council and Midlothian Council, with match funding from the Scottish Government.

VisitScotland will continue to work with partners to promote the Borders Railway to national and international markets with digital marketing activity in Canada and Germany planned in the next year. Riddell Graham, Director of Partnerships at VisitScotland said: “The Borders Railway has had a massive impact on the local economy and has encouraged people to come and visit this part of the country from all over the world.

“From the momentous re-opening of the historic route by HM The Queen to this summer’s unique steam train opportunity, the Borders Railway has well and truly captured the attention of the world’s media.

“We want to ensure that the spotlight continues to shine on the regions surrounding the Borders Railway and the next phase of our international marketing campaign will focus on inspiring visitors from Canada and Germany to make the trip.

“Scotland’s reputation as a quality destination relies on continued investment and innovation to ensure the current provision meets future demand, and the success of the Borders Railway shows just how important this is.” Lindley Kirkpatrick, head of ScotRail’s Borders Railway programme, said: “The Borders Railway has been an extraordinary success.

“Each and every day thousands of people are travelling to and from the region for work, to study and to catch up with friends and family. It has also really opened up this most beautiful part our country to the tourism market that is so important for our country.

“Businesses are thriving, communities are being strengthened and opportunities are being opened up for people young and old.

“As we continue to build the best railway that Scotland has ever had, we will be looking at more ways to support the line. The passenger numbers we have seen in the first two years are really impressive, but we know that this is just the beginning.”

Danny Cusick, chairman of the Borders Railway Blueprint Leaders Group and director of Tourism at Scottish Enterprise, said: “We’ve always been confident that the Borders Railway project would deliver real economic opportunities for the area, and the numbers highlight that not only has this proven to be a boost for the local economy, but it is fast becoming one of Scotland’s most loved tourist attractions.

“We will continue to work with the partnership in driving forward new and emerging opportunities for economic development in the region.”