Passengers will not have to dig too deep into their pockets to afford fares on the new Borders railway, it was claimed this week.
Announced by Transport Scotland, the fare plans are still subject to industry approval, but the agency maintains it should mean that passengers will be able to travel end-to-end on the line for less than £10 – and from 5.20am until almost 1am.
Transport Scotland also says the recommended fares structure ensures ticket prices match those elsewhere on the network, with the average fare across the Borders railway working out at just £3.50.
Despite claims in some quarters that the average of all the published fares will actually be nearer £6, with the average charge into Edinburgh from all starting points costing almost £7, the new fares structure was still welcomed.
“The reality is that the fares are extremely good and they offer very good competitive prices,” said the leader of Scottish Borders Council, David Parker.
“The majority of passengers on the train don’t, in reality, pay a full fare. Regular travellers tend to go for offers and a great many journeys are done off-peak, and there are usually other offers.
“This means the headline full-fare ticket price is paid by very few passengers, and that is the case on all railways throughout the country.”
And with early-morning trains with good connections in Scotland and to Kings Cross, a half- hourly service throughout the day until 8pm and a late-night service to and from Edinburgh, Mr Parker said the planned timetable will blow many of the anti-rail arguments about the frequency of the service completely out of the water.
He added: “The news will alleviate any suggestions the railway would cost too much to travel on and would only run a limited service.
“It is clear that the railway will provide major social and economic opportunities for the Borders.”
Campaign for Borders Rail vice-chair Tom Curry said the fare structure, coupled to the half-hourly timetable, will make the railway competitive with buses and cars.
“The confirmation that the first service of the day from Tweedbank will make a connection with the 06.25 Edinburgh to King’s Cross is a welcome bonus coming from the timetable consultation and will give Borders business folk a sustainable route to London,” he added.
The full list of proposed fares can be found at www.transportscotland.gov.uk.