All roads, well railway tracks at least, led to Bo’ness on Monday morning for a key announcement from the Scottish Railway Preservation Society (SRPS).
For the past year it has been full steam ahead to create a new halt for the Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway at the former Manuel Junction adjacent to the Edinburgh/Glasgow main line.
The new halt was formally opened by Linlithgow and East Falkirk MP Michael Connarty MP and his wife, Margaret, and marks a significant milestone for the SRPS.
It might have taken 30 years to make the link with the main line but the future is looking rosy for the charity which moved to Bo’ness from Falkirk in the early 1980s and which has gone from strength to strength, bringing around 60,000 visitors to Bo’ness annually.
With the link to Manuel now fully operational, passengers can enjoy a 10-mile round trip and future plans include a car park at Manuel and, eventually, a booking office to enable passengers to travel into Bo’ness from the new platform, a move which the SRPS is confident will benefit Bo’ness.
Mr Connarty said: ‘‘I am very pleased to be opening the new SRPS platform at Manuel which will give passengers who alight a unique feeling of how things used to be when our rail network linked all our communities.’’
John Evans, SRPS chairman, said: ‘‘It is great to reach another milestone in the history of the SRPS.
‘‘Since 2010 when the extended line to Manuel was opened we have been telling passengers that, one day, they will be able to leave the train there and that day has now come.’’
Among the guests on Monday were Archie McLuckie (79), stationmaster at Manuel when it closed and Rita Braes (80), booking clerk there. Donations totalling £30,000 enabled construction of the halt.