Steam is set to play a major part in the new Border Railway when it is opened next year.
Announcing the official opening date of September 6th, 2015, Scotland's first minister Alex Salmond spoke of maximising tourism potential with the introduction of steam services. Speaking at Tweedbank Station, the terminus for the Borders Railway, Mr Salmond explained that a feasibility study will be carried out to determine how the route could help attract visitors to Scotland.
The creation of the Borders Railway has been the focus of a long running campaign to help improve journey times between the south of Scotland and Edinburgh. While commuters will now be able to benefits from a much improved service between rural parts of the country and capital, Mr Salmond wants to create a "steam train experience" to draw in tourists.
Working alongside Scottish Enterprise in partnership with VisitScotland, Scottish Borders Council and Transport Scotland, a feasibility study will be carried out which could see the steam train experience start from as early as September 2015. It will incorporate a visit to the Great Tapestry of Scotland, the world's longest embroidered tapestry, which will be housed at Tweedbank.
Mr Salmond said: "The feasibility study will look at how the area can benefit from the railway. With a dedicated tourist service and the attraction of the Great Tapestry of Scotland to be based at Tweedbank, more people than ever will get to visit and enjoy Scotland’s stunning borders.
"There will be few railway journeys anywhere in Europe to match the outstanding scenery along the route of the new Borders Railway."
The steam route is hoped to generate millions for the local economy but is just one of the ideas put forward to maximise tourism opportunities. Galashiels Station is set to be extended to accommodate longer tourist trains while Wi-Fi will be installed at all the seven major stations on the route.