South Scotland

What is the best way to mark the new Borders Railway?

George Inglis - I Am The Train Image copyright Stumedia
Image caption George Inglis has written a song and filmed a video to mark the opening of the new Borders Railway

When a much-anticipated railway line is finally built to connect your wee home town with The Big Smoke, what is the best way to celebrate?

It is the conundrum facing many people living between Edinburgh and Tweedbank, ahead of the opening of the Borders Railway on Sunday.

A select few have received "golden tickets" to ride the line on Saturday and the Queen will officially open the 30 mile route on Wednesday.

But after almost 50 years without a train link to the region, there are many others who want to join the party.

We've taken a look at some of the more novel ways people in the Borders are celebrating the new railway.

Build a scale model of the Flying Scotsman - in chocolate

Image copyright Phil Wilkinson
Image caption The chocolate Flying Scotsman will go on display at Waverley station at the weekend

When Peebles-based chocolate firm Cocoa Black was asked to create something special to celebrate the return of a railway to the Borders, chocolatier Ruth Hinks pulled out all the stops.

Watch a video of the construction of the chocolate model here.

Her team spent 400 hours, over four weeks, creating a spectacular 1:17 scale model of the Flying Scotsman.

Made entirely from high quality chocolate, it weighs more than 75kg and contains more than 400,000 calories.

Ms Hinks said: "The Flying Scotsman is an iconic symbol of the nation's railway heritage.

"In creating the chocolate Flying Scotsman, we hope to rekindle the beauty and romance of Scottish rail travel."

It will go on display at Waverley Station in Edinburgh at the weekend before being auctioned to raise money for charity.

Compose a tribute song

Image copyright StuMedia
Image caption Country singer George Inglis said he was against the closure of the Waverley line in the 1960s.

George Inglis' tribute to the new Borders Railway is a song - I am the Train.

Watch the video to I am the Train here.

In it, the Galashiels-based singer-songwriter name-checks every station along the route, and he visited them when he made the accompanying video.

He said: "I was really against the closing of the railway away back in '69 and I think it's great to have it back. I am right behind it, as we all are in this area.

"It's a very exciting time for us in Galashiels. We'll be linked up to the city - we've been cut off for years."

Immerse yourself in award-winning literature

Image copyright Scottish Borders Council

The organisers of a writing competition to mark the opening of the new railway said they received an "avalanche" of stories and poems from the Borders and beyond.

Scottish Borders Council launched the Waverley Lines contest with creative writing magazine, The Eildon Tree, and they invited entries from writers aged eight and over.

Now they have used the best of the verses and short stories in a 40-page anthology that is available from libraries in the Borders.

In a foreword to the publication, Councillor Vicky Davidson said: "Why is it that train travel lends itself so well to story and literature, film and drama?

"Is it its inherent rhythm and pace, the journey or the way the scenery simply rolls by? It has a romance that other modes of transport do not match.

"The sound of a train was last heard in this area in 1969, and it is with great excitement that we Borderers hear that sound again.

"I am therefore hugely delighted about these stories, each one inspired by the railway."


Image copyright @BordersRailway
Image caption Nancy McLean is among those who have joined in the #MyBordersRailway celebration

The Borders Railway Twitter service has been giving regular updates on the progress of the £294m project throughout its construction phase.

Photos and videos of track-laying, new stations and the first test runs were shared with thousands followers.

The feed is run by Network Rail, which has recorded more than 1,500 mentions of #MyBordersRailway over the last month.

It has been used by businesses and local residents to talk about the difference the railway will make to their life.

More generally, there has been in excess of 8,000 mentions of the railway on Twitter and the @BordersRailway account has added more than 1,000 new followers as anticipation builds.

Hugh Wark, Network Rail project director, said: "This new railway is about much more than just a train service - it is about what that new service can do for the communities along the line.

"This campaign has been about encouraging local residents to think about how the new railway might change the way they live, or work, or learn."

Pray for the railway's success

Image copyright James Denham

When embarking on any new journey or venture, it never hurts to ask for a little divine back-up. That's why an ecumenical church service is planned, to welcome the new railway, and to pray for its success.

The service at the Our Lady and St Andrews Catholic Church in Galashiels on Sunday afternoon will welcome people of all faiths.

Clergy from churches closest to stations in Galashiels, Stow and Melrose will take part, including Philip Blackledge, from Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Melrose.

He said: "This is a way of the church really embracing the opportunities and the hope for the Borders that exists in this new railway system, the new people that we will welcome in and the new opportunities for work.

"Just really giving thanks that this new thing is here and saying that we are a part of it."

How are you celebrating the new Borders Railway? Is it worth celebrating? Share your views by emailing or find us on Twitter @BBCSouthScot

Get live news updates for the Scottish Borders and Dumfries and Galloway throughout the day on our south of Scotland live page.

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