Railway history was made in Scotland last month with the reopening of 30 miles of the old Waverley route south of Edinburgh. The special train which carried the Queen for the official opening ceremony was hauled by Gresley A4 4-6-2 No 60009 Union of South Africa. This was bought out of service on the Glasgow - Aberdeen expresses in the 1960s by a Scottish famer John Cameron, who still operates it today. He looked as pleased as Punch when talking to the Queen on opening day.
Number 9 has also operated almost all the special steam charters along the line during September and October, hauling ten maroon Mark 1s kept immaculate inside and out by the SRPS, with a Class 67 diesel at the rear. This was necessary because of the absence of a turning loop at the Tweedbank terminus. Sadly took the performance interest out of the long 1 in 70 climb from Hardengreen to Falahill, because it was providing some assistance.
We made a smart getaway from Edinburgh Waverley, touching 47 at Meadowbank before turning south at Portobello Junction and onto a new stretch of line beyond Newcraighall which avoids mining subsidence in the Millerhill area. We passed Shawfair at 35 and Eskbank at 36, beginning the 1 in 70 climb at Hardengreen at 34. We continued in the low 30s most of the way up, dropping to 27 before Gorebridge then accelerating past Tynehead (37) to breast Falahill at 39. I was near the diesel and heard little work, but these speeds were inferior to the two other logs I have seen of earlier steam runs in this series.
There is little to say of the downhill run into the Tweedbank terminus. Steam is restricted to 55 on the whole line (85 for diesel) but we were nowhere near even the lower figure. A final spurt to 48 and 49 between Stow and Galashiels was our maximum for the run. I did not time the return run as it was diesel-hauled, with a maximum speed limit of 45 because of the steam engine being in reverse. It was a good day out and we were relieved that the promise of heavy rain all day was unfulfilled until we got back to Edinburgh. If I go again next year I shall enjoy one of the lavish afternoon teas we saw set out for first class passengers!
© Peter Hewitt's Transport Pictures