Borders Railway to star in Channel 5 TV show about lost railway lines

The episode of Walking Britain’s Lost Railways will air on Friday 24 April at 8pm.

By Conor Matchett
Saturday, 18th April 2020, 7:30 am
Updated Saturday, 18th April 2020, 11:00 am
Rob Bell at the old Stobs Station on the former Waverley Route
Rob Bell at the old Stobs Station on the former Waverley Route

One of Scotland’s most loved lost railways will feature on Channel 5’s Walking Britain’s Lost Railways.

The Borders Railway line, which used to reach Carlisle from Edinburgh and was partially reopened as far as Tweedbank in 2015, will be the star of the show, to be aired on April 24 at 8pm.

The Waverley Route between Edinburgh and Carlisle was shut during the wide-ranging Beeching cuts in the sixties, closing to passengers in 1969.

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Rob Bell and Tom Pyemont at the former Hassendean Station, now Tom's home

Presenter Rob Bell travels on the new line as well as visiting towns such as Hawick which no longer have a train station.

Mr Bell said: “It absolutely warms my heart to see a successful re-introduction of a lost railway line like the Borders Railway. Hats off to all involved. Within only 5 minutes of leaving the city, the views are spectacular.

“This 30-mile stretch of re-instated railway is a real gift; allowing more people to commute by rail into Edinburgh and making it easier for tourists to enjoy a day trip out into the beautiful Scottish Borders - which they might otherwise have sadly missed.

“I’m hopeful it can be extended even further along the old Waverley Route which I had great fun exploring for the programme and that it serves as a case study for the re-opening of other lost lines across Scotland.”

Simon Walton, the chairman of the Campaign for Borders Rail, meets Mr Bell at Tweedbank before setting him on his way.

He said: “I’ve been enjoying this series. It’s not just about railways, but about people and communities, which makes it all the more interesting for me. I think it highlights the impact railways have on places, even after they’re gone.

“When you see stations turned into other businesses, and people still yearning for a rail service to come back into their communities, even after decades, it brings home how important communications are for so many people.

“Listening to the people Rob meets, up and down the country, I can’t help but feel we’re doing the right thing in campaigning for a new Waverley Route, all the way from Edinburgh, through Galashiels and Hawick, to Carlisle. It’s just the right thing to do.”

Mr Bell also heads to Hassendean Station, a former rural halt between Newton St Boswells and Hawick, now transformed into a home and holiday let by architect Tom Pyemont.

Mr Pyemont said: “It was a lovely surprise to get a call from Rob asking to visit Hassendean.

“He was very interested in the history of the station and the line. I showed him round the station, and how we’ve made it into a home, and office and a business.

“Rob is an enthusiast of everything industrial, and was eager to hear about the campaign to reopen the line. He was impressed with the restoration we’ve made of the timber footbridge, from where we filmed the shots that made the opening titles of the series.

“We’re fairly certain it’s the only one of its type, so not just a unique feature of Hassendean.”