Borders rail passengers being promised 1,500 extra seats a day as train bosses try to tackle overcrowding

Borders Railway passengers are being promised hundreds of extra seats daily.

Wednesday, 4th December 2019, 5:06 pm
Passengers trying to squeeze on board an overcrowded Tweedbank-bound train at Edinburgh. Photo: Robert Drysdale.

ScotRail’s latest timetable comes into effect on Sunday, December 15, and it will bring with it 1,500 more seats a day for passengers using the Tweedbank-Edinburgh line.

That improvement is thanks to the ongoing transer here of Class 170 trains no longer needed on other lines.

More trains will operate with five or six carriages at peak times and three or four at off-peak times as two-carriage Class 158 models are gradually phased out.

The number of two-carriage services is being cut from the current 13 a day to seven.

That’s a move being welcomed by Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale MSP Christine Grahame, a frequent critic of the service provided on the 30-mile line.

She said: “I’m happy to see capacity increasing on Borders Railway as overcrowding, particularly at rush hour, has been a real issue for my constituents.

“Indeed, earlier this year I had Alex Hynes, chief executive officer of ScotRail, accompany me at my invitation on a rush-hour service to see for himself the issues commuters faced.

“The Borders Railway continues to far exceed the passenger numbers predicted and planned for when it opened in 2015.

“In that sense, it is a great success, but it’s important that it continues to be adapted to provide a reliable and useable service for passengers and to ensure it continues to be an asset to the area in future.

“Time will tell how successful these changes are in alleviating overcrowding, and I’ll continue to keep an eye to this.

“In the interim, I have already written to ScotRail to ask what measures are in place to support increased passenger numbers on the service over the festive period.”

Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire MSP Rachael Hamilton has also welcomed the promised improvements, saying: “I cautiously welcome the additional carriages announcement as we have seen before that ScotRail make promises but don’t necessarily honour them.

“Additional carriages will make a difference to the overcrowding we see on the line, especially nearer Edinburgh, where the journey can become unpleasant due to lack of seats and the large number of people on the train.

“Let’s see if ScotRail can step up to the mark and ensure these promises are delivered.”

David Simpson, ScotRail’s operations director, said: “The improvements we are making to our timetable from December will deliver even more benefits for our customers, delivering more seats, more services, and a new station in the north east of Glasgow.

“Our £475m investment in new and upgraded trains and infrastructure improvements across the country are all part of building the best railway Scotland has ever had.”