Platinum Jubilee – The Queen and the railway

Platinum Jubilee – The Queen and the railway

Published 1 June 2022 | Average read time
6 min read
From the archive Life at Network Rail Our railway structures

Her Majesty The Queen has a long tradition of supporting Britain’s railways and has attended many celebrations on the railway during her 70-year reign.  

We are grateful to Her Majesty for her continued support of this essential public service.  

Here is a look back at our recent history with The Queen in celebration of her Platinum Jubilee and our appreciation of her support …

The grand opening of the redeveloped Reading station, Berkshire

The Queen officially opened Reading’s redeveloped railway station on 17 July 2014.

Our £895m redevelopment scheme removed one of the worst bottlenecks on the network. It improved reliability and increased capacity so more trains could run.

The Queen met key members of the project team and unveiled a plaque marking the official opening of the new and improved station.

Her Majesty The Queen in special photograph with rail colleagues in front of Reading railway station.

Her Majesty was also joined by more than 100 railway workers for a special photograph to mark the occasion. The Queen also opened the original Reading station in 1989.

The opening of the transformed Birmingham New Street station, West Midlands

Her Majesty opened the transformed Birmingham New Street station on 19 November 2015, accompanied by His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh.  

The Queen unveiled a plaque marking her visit – her first to New Street and her first visit to the city since her Diamond Jubilee tour in 2012. The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh were greeted by a host of dignitaries, including Sir Peter Hendy, chair of Network Rail, after arriving at the station on the Royal Train. 

They were shown an exhibition of the station through the ages since it was first built in the 1880s and were introduced to many of those involved in building the latest £750m incarnation.

The launch of the Borders Railway in Scotland

Service traveling on Borders Line surrounded by green fields.

Her Majesty and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon opened the £295m Borders railway in Scotland, September 2015.

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh hailed the historic event at Edinburgh Waverley station and were then treated to a steam train journey along a section of the newly opened line.

The Borders Line granted passengers with services from Tweedbank to the capital for the first time in 40 years.

This occasion also marked The Queen’s record-breaking reign. Queen Victoria reigned for 23,226 days, 16 hours and 23 minutes. The Queen passed that record at 17:30 on the day of the opening of the Borders Railway.

A surprise celebration of the Elizabeth Line in London

The Queen and Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex made a surprise visit to celebrate the Elizabeth Line at Paddington station on Tuesday 24th May 2022.  

The Queen unveiled a plaque to celebrate the completion of the line that was named in her honour. The plaque will be permanently on display to mark her historic connection to the railway.  

The Queen also met with colleagues who were pivotal in the Crossrail project, and those who will run the line, including drivers and apprentices.  

The new Elizabeth Line service will mean 1.5m more people will be able to travel into central London within 45 minutes.

Back in time

The Royal Family has also had a long tradition of supporting the railway. Queen Victoria carried out many official openings, including of the High Level Bridge in 1849 and the Royal Border Bridge in 1850.

The railway enhanced the way the Royal Family fulfilled their public duties. Their continued use of the railway in their royal carriages reshaped how they interacted with the public across the nation. These carriages soon transformed into mobile offices as the hard-working royals became more connected to the public.

The railway also played a part celebrating The Queen’s coronation in 1953. Many used the railway to travel to London to witness the coronation while stations were decorated and shared information about the special event.

We have had a wonderful 70 years of support from The Queen and the Royal Family, and we shall remain ever grateful.

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