Built by the North British Railway between 1849 and 1862, the Waverley Route between Edinburgh and Carlisle was one of the more memorable lines lamented when it was controversially closed in 1969. No one at the time expected it to return. In the decades since the narrative was that busses and cars would be the mode of transport. The train had had its day.
Few thought it would return, but the case was won and the re-named Borders Railway will aspire to emulate the interest and service its ancestors worked so hard to achieve and in the end built a reputation so respected that the lines closure marked scenes of defiance and hostility to a service they wanted to keep. Today the mantle for such a reputation to be rebuilt is passed to the care of Scotrail, who run the units and crews that carry the new passengers back and forth. Thanks to Network Rail, the line is very well built, its single line sections easily able to cope with the regular and punctual nature of the service. Its impressive infrastructure allows for trains to reach speeds far higher than the nearby road and allow quick and efficient service. The opening Borders Railway of the borders railway was a fitting occasion for HM Queen Elizabeth II to celebrate passing the milestone of becoming the longest serving Monarch in British History and that of its founding nations, England and Scotland. It was a case of a railway being restored to its local community; of a traditional method being the best way of going forward to serve its local population. So like the railway being reinstated, so the Monarch reaffirmed her place as Head of State, of serving the people that she is dutifully placed to govern over.
The occasion saw the attention of two Queens on the day. One of mettle, the other of metal, for while Her Majesty was conveyed along the length of the journey to view the railways return for herself, the other Queen on display was none other than the locomotive 60009 Union of South Africa which could easily display the qualities required of a Monarch, having a grace, majesty, presence and reputation that few others can match. Not since the 8th June 1961 had an A4 locomotive been given the duty to head the Royal Train, conveying the Queen, with the honour on that occasion falling to 60028 Walter K. Wigham. On this occasion, the Royal Train itself was made up of a collection of different stock, for the short turn to Tweedback from Edinburgh Waverley, rather than the standard set. Even despite railway tradition being as steeped in protocol as that of events for Heads of State, the A4 was given a special headboard to carry atop of its number rather than the traditional four lamps that befits a train for the Monarch. Still, the event proved to be one of great significance of a railway reopening a full line again, the likes have not been seen for close to a century.
The following day, Union of South Africa returned to more traditional duties on the following day of the Borders Railway reopening. Here the engine was at the head of a service to allow the public to experience the lines return by means of heritage traction. The services, organised and supported by Scotrail are a part of the new Franchise offering steam services and heritage operations to bring more tourism to Scotland and build on successful operations elsewhere. The charter also showed the complexities of modern operation, with some regular Scotrail services suspended to allow the charter to pass through. Speeds compared with regular traffic were reduced, although in places, the charter seemed to be running well. Union of South Africa was supported on the day by Class 67 67026 Diamond Jubilee which was needed to haul the charter back to Edinburgh owing to no run round facility at Tweedbank.