Critical report highlights need for speed on Borders Railway

Transport minister Humza Yousaf, front centre left, at the Borders Railway's first birthday party in Edinburgh in September.

Transport minister Humza Yousaf, front centre left, at the Borders Railway's first birthday party in Edinburgh in September.

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More than half of Borders Railway services from Tweedbank to Edinburgh have been late every single week since the line’s launch in September last year, according to a report by rail campaigners Bill Jamieson and David Spaven.

Their report, based on a year’s monitoring of punctuality and cancellations starting in late October 2015, also reveals that no more than two-thirds of trains heading in the other direction have been arriving in Tweedbank within a minute of their scheduled time. in any given week.

Even judged against the definition of lateness as being over five minutes behind schedule, only in 12 weeks out of 52 have Edinburgh-Tweedbank services achieved the ScotRail contractual public performance measure target of 92.5% of services arriving on time.

Going the other way, the line fared even worse, hitting that target on just seven weeks out of 52.

Trains were cancelled during all but five weeks of the year, figures also reveal.

It concludes: “By any measure, it is clear that the Borders Railway has seriously under-performed operationally over most of the year monitored.

“In September, Scotland’s transport minister, Humza Yousaf, instructed ScotRail to deliver a recovery plan, but it is too early to conclude whether this is having a significant impact. Overall, the evidence to date suggests that it is extremely difficult to consistently operate the Borders Railway to timetable.

“The main underlying problems of the Borders Railway can, however, only be addressed by Transport Scotland, in its role as funder of infrastructure enhancements on the ScotRail network.”

A ScotRail Alliance spokesperson said: “There have been some challenges, and we’re determined to find the solutions that overcome them and see even more customers travelling on the line in year two and beyond.”

Transport Scotland is optimistic that the improvements demanded by Mr Yousaf will lead to better performance, with a spokesman saying: “Within the plan, and the actions around it, there is a focus on the Borders route’s performance.

“Our officials will monitor and review progress with the planned initiatives very closely to see that they do, in fact, support and deliver better performance.

“The ScotRail 158 fleet is currently undergoing a £14m refurbishment programme delivering significant upgrades to on-train facilities.

“As more refurbished trains are completed, they will be rolled out onto routes including the Borders next year, increasing capacity and reliability for passengers.”