The installation of 48km of track on the new Borders Railway, where Bam Nuttall is main contractor, was completed today.
Brown, the Scottish Government’s cabinet secretary for infrastructure, joined the project team to clip the final length of rail into place, alongside Hugh Wark, Network Rail’s project director (pictured).
Since track-laying commenced in October last year, over 1,000 rails have been laid across more than 90,000 sleepers using a specialist rail installation machine.
The longest new domestic railway built in Britain in over a century, the Scottish Government-funded Borders Railway will re-establish passenger services for the first time in over 40 years from Edinburgh through Midlothian to Tweedbank.
With the rails now in place, the project team will focus on completing ballast spreading, tamping and welding on the track, installing signalling and communications equipment and completing the construction and fit-out of seven new stations – at Shawfair, Eskbank, Newtongrange, Gorebridge, Stow, Galashiels and Tweedbank.
With construction due to complete in the summer and the line to enter service in September 2015, the new railway will offer a fast and efficient alternative to the congested local road network allowing passengers to travel from Tweedbank to Edinburgh in around an hour at peak times.
Brown said: “It is a huge honour to put the final piece of track in place and travel on the first train to run into the Borders in almost half a century. The reopening of this line offers a once in a generation opportunity to deliver a major economic and social boost for the communities it will serve.
“This is the longest domestic railway to be built in Britain in over 100 years and is a fantastic engineering achievement for Scotland and for the rail industry. But more importantly, the Borders Railway is the realisation of a long-held aspiration that will see community links restored, local economies boosted and opportunities improved for many.”
Wark added: “The completion of rail installation is a major milestone for the project and keeps the line on-track to open for passengers in September. While we still have a significant amount of infrastructure to complete along the route – from installing signalling to completing the stations – we’re confident that this much-anticipated addition to Scotland’s railway will be delivered on schedule.”