Train named after rail campaigner

A woman who campaigned to save and reopen the Borders Railway has had a railway locomotive named after her. Freightliner Locomotive 66528 will now carry the name “Madge Elliott MBE”.

Veteran railway campaigner, Madge Elliot has been honoured in a locomotive naming ceremony at Edinburgh Waverley Station today (Thursday 4 June) to mark the impending completion of Borders Railway works.

Madge, who led the campaign against the closure of the Waverley line in 1969 and was a founding member of the Campaign for Borders Rail, was piped into the station alongside her family and friends.  She was greeted by Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities, Keith Brown, Network Rail project director, Hugh Wark, and Freightliner Heavy Haul managing director, Paul Smart, before unveiling the name plate.

The ceremony was arranged in advance of the new route opening for driver training next week.

The ceremony also marked the countdown to the start of rail services, with just 95 days until the 6 September launch. A giant artwork was unveiled in the station near the platforms to be used for many of the departures to the Scottish Borders.

Madge’s elder son, Kim Elliot said:

“For as long as I can remember, the railway has been a passion for my parents, but for my mother in particular, and it’s become a life-long interest for us all. We are delighted that, just days before trains start running on the railway once again, the project team has taken the opportunity to honour the role my mother played in re-establishing this link. It’s a fitting tribute to her that the engine carrying her name has been used to build this railway and hopefully many more.”

Keith Brown said:

“We are now just a heartbeat away from seeing this historic railway come back to life, and that is undoubtedly in huge part thanks to the tireless campaigning work of Madge Elliot.

“Days from now, the first ScotRail trains in almost half a century will travel down the line as the drivers begin to learn the route.

“This is an incredibly exciting time for the rail industry, and for the communities up and down the new railway, and I am delighted that we have been able to share this with Madge and honour the work she has done over the years.”

Network Rail’s Hugh Wark said:

“None of us would be here to celebrate the impending completion of this railway without the passion and dedication of Madge Elliot and the grassroots campaigners that got this project off the ground. It’s appropriate that we mark this historic moment by acknowledging her.

“We are now in the final phase of construction works. The railway will be available for driver training next week as planned and stations will be complete within the next two weeks. There are still some landscaping, planting and finishing works required, but nothing critical to the operation of the railway. Remaining works will be completed well in advance of September.”

Freightliner Heavy Haul’s managing director, Paul Smart, said:

“We are privileged to be able to pay tribute to Madge’s dedication by naming our Freightliner loco, number 66528 in her honour. We hope this will serve as a continual reminder of her passion and commitment to the railway. Freightliner is pleased to have played an important role in the completion of the Borders Railway project and we look forward to seeing the final touches being completed.”

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