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Newbattle (or Lothianbridge) viaduct
|Type||Urban rail proposal|
|Status||Disused, scheduled for partial re-opening|
|Locale||Edinburgh, Midlothian & Borders, Scotland; Carlisle, England, UK|
|Closed||1969 (re-opening 2014)|
The Waverley Line is an abandoned double track railway line that ran south from Edinburgh in Scotland through Midlothian and the Scottish Borders to Carlisle in England. It was built by the North British Railway Company, opening from Edinburgh to Hawick in 1849, and to Carlisle in 1862. It was named the Waverley route after the novel by Sir Walter Scott. Reconstruction work of the Edinburgh-Galashiels-Tweedbank section was scheduled to begin in 2008. Following three years of contractual problems, the line is anticipated to open in 2014.
The route was famous for its significant gradients and bleak moorland terrain, which made it arguably the most difficult line in the UK for steam locomotive crews to work over. From Edinburgh Waverley the climb started on the city outskirts, continuing for several miles at 1 in 80 with a summit at Falahill loop. It then descended at a similar rate to Galashiels, Melrose and St Boswells before reaching Hawick and ascending for 12 miles at 1 in 80 through Stobs and Shankend to Whitrope Summit, the highest point on the line. Following Whitrope Tunnel, the line descended at an unbroken 1 in 75 for over eight miles through Riccarton Junction and Steele Road to Newcastleton, following which were easier gradients to Carlisle.
As the line was built by the North British Railway, it fell under the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) at the Grouping in 1923. However the two expresses from London had traditionally run via the Midland Railway's Midland Main Line, and since the Midland became part of the London Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS) group, the daytime 'Waverley' express and overnight sleeping car train were hauled by LMS locomotives to Carlisle, then LNER locomotives to Edinburgh Waverley.
The expresses were limited stop and in the 1950s covered the mileage from Carlisle to Edinburgh in roughly two-and-a-half hours. Motive power was usually a Gresley A3 Pacific locomotive, a class unsuited to hill climbing. With large driving wheels and three cylinders, they were designed for long stretches of 80+ mph running on heavy expresses - the 'Waverley' express was typically eight coachesand the Waverley Route was 70 mph maximum with many tight curves limited to much lower speed. On the climb from Newcastleton to Whitrope Summit the train would be down to 30 mph by Steele Road, with the locomotive being worked flat out.
Other passenger services (usually three per day) were also worked by A3s, although Thompson B1 4-6-0s made regular appearances. There was also a daily Gresley A4 diagram between Edinburgh and Carlisle - an overnight fitted freight southbound, returning with the early morning parcels train. Thompson Pacifics appeared later on, just before the line was dieselised in a drive for efficiency. In addition there were also several local passenger workings between Galashiels and Edinburgh (some via the Peebles loop) and between Hawick and Carlisle. These tended to be hauled by B1s, although V1 2-6-2 tank engines made occasional appearances, as did D49 4-4-0s.
After the end of steam, a variety of diesels worked passenger trains, especially Class 24 and 26 Sulzer-engined diesels and even Class 17 Claytons on local stoppers, and long-distance trains were often covered by Class 45 Peaks.
Freight workings were heavy and frequent, and hauled by a multitude of different classes. The significant workings were pulled by Gresley V2 2-6-2s and Gresley K3 2-6-0s as well as A3s. V2s provided service for over 30 years. In the 1960s, once the short-lived marshalling yards at Carlisle Kingmoor and Edinburgh Millerhill were opened, they worked hourly freights right through the day and night. Depending on the maximum speed of the freight working, a Carlisle to Edinburgh freight could take anything from four to seven hours. There were also stopping freight trains from Hawick to Edinburgh and Hawick to Carlisle and back, each taking a full day to complete the round trip, stopping to shunt at every station yard. These tended to be hauled by J39 0-6-0 locomotives, although BR standard class 4 2-6-0s replaced them later on.
One notable working in later years was a daily Halewood (Liverpool) to Bathgate freight train carrying Ford cars on carflats. Due to the heavy load, the booked motive power was a Gresley V2 and a Stanier Class 5 double-headed, usually with the V2 on the front.
The line was included in those where passenger services were to be withdrawn in the Beeching Axe. In October 1966 British Railways gave notice to close the line from 2 January 1967, with closure notices posted at all stations on the line. A brief reprieve was announced and the situation was on hold pending review; on 15 July 1968 the Minister for Transport, Richard Marsh, gave the final order that the line would close on Monday, 6 January 1969. A public outcry ensued and there followed a high-profile campaign to save the line. This was unsuccessful in preventing the closure.
The last passenger train (and the last train to traverse the entire route) was 1M82 21.56 Edinburgh - St Pancras sleeper on Sunday 5 January 1969, hauled by Class 45 D60 "Lytham St Annes".
Feelings were running high along the route in the final weekend of passenger operations, with protesters evident at most stations, and the authorities, sensing the potential trouble, sent a Clayton 'pilot' engine ahead of 1M82 from Hawick to 'prove' the route south after a set of points at Hawick had been found to be tampered with.
At Newcastleton, the pilot engine found the line was blocked and the level crossing gates locked by protesters. The disturbance led to the arrest of the local minister and he was released only after David Steel MP, who was travelling on the sleeper, negotiated with the police. This caused 1M82 to arrive two hours late in Carlisle.
On the afternoon of 8 January at Riddings Junction, BR staged a tracklifting 'ceremony' for the press to split the London Midland and Scottish Regions, demonstrating their determination to dismantle the route.
After the passage of 1M82, the line was formally closed to passengers, and the line between Hawick and Longtown closed completely and came under engineers' possession for dismantling.
Freight traffic continued until 28 April 1969 as far as Hawick with a daily service, mainly coal traffic from Lady Victoria Pit. The signalling was drastically reduced after passenger closure with 'telephone and notice board' working.
At the southern end of the route the line between Carlisle Kingmoor and Longtown remained open to traffic until 31 August 1970 when it was cut back to Brunthill. The section from Carlisle Kingmoor to Brunthill remains open and sees periodic freight traffic.
Tracklifting had begun, but was temporarily halted in early 1969 while negotiations with British Rail were held to discuss buying the infrastructure by a private consortium, The Border Union Railway Co. Various options were put forward to keep the route open, such as singling large sections and reducing the number of signal boxes, but this came to nothing, and British Rail ceased negotiations on 23 December 1969, after requesting interest payments to keep the infrastructure 'in situ' while funding for the £1 million capital required was sought.
An inspection saloon ran over the route in early 1970 to allow contractors to bid for the demolition work. Track lifting started in earnest and trains could be seen undertaking dismantling duties. The Down line between Hawick and Longtown was lifted by 1 April 1972, the Up line having been lifted by February 1970. The entire route between Longtown to Newtongrange was removed by early 1972. The final stretch between Newtongrange and Millerhill was closed on 28 June 1973 and removed soon thereafter.
The last train to cross Hawick station viaduct did so on 18 April 1971. Hauled by D3880 (08713), it was lifting the line in rear of it. Hawick South signalbox was demolished on 13 July 1972, while work on dismantling the station buildings and goods shed started on 20 January 1975. After the closure and lifting of the line, the parcels office at Hawick remained open and British Rail vans continued to carry parcels traffic by road. Demolition of the viaduct over the River Teviot commenced nine months later, on 1 September 1975.
In the late 1990s there was some discussion about reopening the southern section from Carlisle as far as Riccarton Junction. With the trees in the reforested areas of Kielder Forest now approaching maturity, the network of only minor roads and the local population were seen as being vulnerable to and unable to cope with a significantly increased logging traffic. Reinstating a single track was seen to provide transport capacity for heavy loads bypassing the villages, but the project was not pursued any further.
At Whitrope Siding, just short of Whitrope Tunnel, track panels have been relaid by the Waverley Route Heritage Association (WRHA) as part of a heritage railway that in 2009 stretched from Whitrope tunnel for about 0.5 miles. A heritage centre is being constructed at Whitrope as part of the WRHA activities. The track panels that had also been laid at Riccarton Junction were lifted by 2010.
The Heritage Centre had two open days in July 2010, with official opening of the Centre taking place on Sunday at 2pm. The opening was performed by the Rt Hon Michael Moore MP, the local MP and the new Secretary of State for Scotland, and Mrs Madge Elliot, veteran Borders rail campaigner who led the fight to save the Waverley Route in the late 1960s.
The WRHA has a small shunter and has included cab rides, the first traction to move on the line since closure, with possible passenger coach movement by the summer of 2012. More details are on the WRHA Website www.wrha.ork.uk
In June 2006, the Waverley Railway (Scotland) Act was passed by the Scottish Parliament by 114 votes to 1. It will re-open the line as far as Tweedbank, just south of the burgh of Galashiels, and was given the Royal Assent in July 2006.
£115 million has been allocated for the proposed route and services, which will extend an existing Edinburgh suburban service from Newcraighall to Shawfair, Eskbank, Newtongrange, Gorebridge, Stow, Galashiels and Tweedbank.
On 27 March 2007, Transport Minister Nicol Stephen formally initiated preparatory works. Vegetation clearance took place with a view for construction to begin in 2009 with the first trains due to run in 2011.
In August 2008, the timelines were adjusted, with tendering starting in 2009, final tendering starting in 2010, groundwork starting early 2011 and trains running early 2013. In November 2009, it was announced that the reopening would be delayed for a year. Services are expected to start in 2014.
On 3 March 2010, Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson turned the first sod, in Galashiels. This and the beginning of ancillary works marked the official start, activated the Waverley Rail Act which allows the scheme to be built and formally triggered a clause within the act that commits the Scottish Government to complete the scheme within five years. Main construction is due to start in 2011.
On 27 March 2010, it was announced that tendering was underway with three bids received in June 2010. The winning bids were to be announced in September 2011. The final cost estimated at £235m to £295m with the start of revenue services now expected in 2014. The tender process was scrapped on 29 September 2011 and the line will now be built by Network Rail.
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