Lonely Planet Writer

Full steam ahead as Borders Railway opens for vintage travel in August and September

It’s all aboard for a trip down memory lane after ScotRail revealed plans to run steam trains again this year.

The Flying Scotsman.
The Flying Scotsman. Image by jimd2007 / CC BY 2.0

The company will operate trains every Sunday in August and September on the Borders Railway, it confirmed this week.  The steam trips have been organised to capitalise on the huge number of tourists who arrive for the Edinburgh Festival. The company will have taken heart from the reaction by thousands of people who turned up in May to witness the Flying Scotsman locomotive return to Scotland after undergoing a major revamp down south. Two different locomotives will operate the Sunday excursions. In August, the 46100 Royal Scot will take the lead role in hauling the carriages while the 60009 Union of South Africa will be on the tracks for the September excursions.

An aerial view of the Flying Scotsman going over the Digswell Viaduct near Welwyn Garden City on its inaugural run from London to York after a decade long, £4.2 million refit.
An aerial view of the Flying Scotsman going over the Digswell Viaduct near Welwyn Garden City on its inaugural run from London to York after a decade long, £4.2 million refit. Image by Steve Parsons/PA Wire

ScotRail has pitched the cost of return tickets between the Edinburgh and Tweedbank at £55, with ‘premier dining’ costing £130 and an extra £20 for full first class. All passengers will get a feeling of time travel as they will journey in vintage carriages owned by the Bo’ness-based Scottish Railway Preservation Society. ScotRail said the reason it had confined the extra trips to Sundays in the two months was to eschew the need to cancel regular services on the largely single-track line. The company experienced sell-out journeys last year when the steam trains ran on Thursdays but this meant disruption for passengers on regular services. Rail consultant David Spave felt it was a shame such trains could not run on Saturdays. He welcomed the Sunday trips and said it vindicated the campaign to have platforms at Tweedbank extended to accommodate diesels and steam charter trains.