South Scotland

Council wants steam trains to return to Borders Railway

Newbattle Viaduct
Image caption More than 6,000 passengers travelled by steam train on the Borders Railway this year

Steam trains should return to the Borders Railway next year despite the disruption they caused, according to Scottish Borders Council.

The service was hugely popular when it ran on the new line for six weeks earlier this year.

However it caused delays and disruption to the main commuter service on the route between Edinburgh and Tweedbank.

Rob Dickson, the council's corporate transformation and services director, said it was a "price worth paying".

About 6,200 passengers travelled on 17 sold-out steam journeys in September and October.

It led to claims of disruption to commuter services from regular passengers.

Rail workers also claimed they had to clear up raw sewage discarded from carriages pulled by the steam engine.

Image caption The 6009 Union of South Africa made 17 journeys on the Borders Railway

Mr Dickson said the council was "four-square" behind plans to return the steam train service to the Borders.

But he added: "I think there were some short term issues.

"There were some impacts that we perhaps hadn't foreseen and there is, we have to accept in offering the steam train experience, going to be an impact on the daily commuter service.

"Now you can't have everything.

"It's great to have a successful Borders Railway, it's great to have the opportunity to offer steam, but we do need to accept that if we are going to do that there will be some impact on normal commuter services and that's something that, at least in the short to medium term, we think is a price worth paying."

He said it was unlikely that a steam train would operate on the railway for a six week block next year.

"We think we need to spread the steam train experience over the course of the year," he said.

"We need to find opportunities for exploiting events that take place in the Borders."

He said the Borders Book Festival, the Edinburgh Festival, rugby internationals and the Melrose Sevens could be among the events which could be hooked up to a steam train experience.

A spokesman for ScotRail said: "It was wonderful to see such high demand and they really caught people's imagination.

"We currently have no definite plans for our 2016 steam trains, but we will share these publicly as soon as the dates and locations are confirmed."

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