Early success puts railway on right track

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Rail bosses, the Scottish Government and the local council have hailed the first four weeks of the Borders Railway as a major success, writes Bob Burgess.

Figures released on Tuesday – exactly a month since services began operating – reavealed that in that time, 125,971 passengers journeys had been on the route.

And by the end of this month 17 sold-out steam trains will have carried 6,200 passengers.

Teething troubles have seen overcrowded carriages, failed ticket machines and signalling problems – all of which are being monitored.

Extra carriarges have been added to some of 192 weekly services.

Scotland’s transport minister Derek Mackay commented: “The historic reopening of the Borders Railway has clearly captured people’s interest and I am delighted to see the soaraway success of services and impressive passenger numbers.”

Council leader David Parker said: “Even a passionate railway supporter such as myself has been taken aback by the huge numbers who have embraced the new service. We have not only had Borderers using the service for work and recreation, but many people from the central belt have been jumping on board to visit our region.

“The knock-on effect has already been seen, with local businesses such as cafes and restaurants reporting extra trade.

“The aim of the Borders Railway Blueprint programme is for the railway to stimulate growth in our businesses, investment into our region and to create new jobs – already we are starting to see signs of all three and it bodes very well for the future.”

Phil Verster, managing director of the ScotRail Alliance commented: “There is a great future ahead for Scotland’s railways and the Borders Railway is an exciting part of that.”

Christine Grahame MSP commented: “The levels of interest from commuters and leisure travellers during the first week of operation has been unprecedented. It is pleasing to note that people are travelling into the region and the railway isn’t just being used to transport people out to other areas as was feared by so many people.”

Passenger traffic has led to Abbotsford House extending its summer opening times and tourism businesses have taken on extra staff.