Borders trains in line for 4,000 extra seats

Rail campaigners have welcomed the addition of more than 1,300 extra seats to peak-time services along the Borders Railway.

Tuesday, 13th December 2016, 3:35 pm
Updated Wednesday, 14th December 2016, 12:40 pm
Transport Minister Humza Yousaf.

ScotRail announced last Friday that additional seats will be available from Monday and that all services departing from Tweedbank between 7am and 8am will be made up of at least three carriages.

The 7.58am train from Tweedbank to South Gyle and the 4.52pm service from Edinburgh Waverley to Tweedbank will see the number of carriages double to four to provide an additional 270 extra seats every day.

Four off-peak weekday services will also gain an extra two carriages, adding a further 2,700 extra seats a week.

Campaign for Borders Rail spokesman Atholl Innes said: “This is very welcome.

“Any increase in passenger space has to be welcomed as more and more people are using the service, and it is incredibly frustrating when you can’t get a seat.

“It indicates the success of the Borders Railway, and unless they do increase the train capacity, people will simply return to relying on their cars and other means of transport.”

Rail Action Group East Scotland vice-chairman Barrie Forrest added: “We are delighted as it is badly needed.

“A lot of lines across the country are suffering from the same problem, and I think that ScotRail completely misunderstood just how many people would be using this Borders service.

“It’s just going to take time, but hopefully they will get it right in the end. It has to be right for all these people relying on it, and hopefully this means that we will start to see improvements over these next few weeks.”

Transport minister Humza Yousaf said: “I am pleased that, working closely with ScotRail, extra capacity during the busy peak periods has been identified and secured for 2017.

“This is in addition to our commitment to provide more capacity from late 2018 onwards as a result of our investment in retaining 13 Class 170 trains.

“The arrival of our new electric fleet next autumn serving newly-electrified routes is the key to increasing seating capacity across our fleet by 23% by 2019, delivering 200 extra carriages to Scotland since the launch of the ScotRail franchise in April 2015.”

The off-peak services in line for extra carriages are the 6.51am train from Edinburgh to Tweedbank, the 5.59pm service from Tweedbank to Edinburgh, the 7.24pm Edinburgh service to Tweedbank and the 8.30pm train from Tweedbank to Edinburgh.

Phil Verster, managing director of the ScotRail Alliance, said: “The Borders Railway is now firmly established as an attractive and convenient public transport option, with strong demand, particularly at peak times.

“We have responded by making a number of changes to add capacity when it is most needed, providing our customers with more comfortable journeys to and from the capital.”

He added: “Projections are just that – assumptions made about how many people are likely to travel at different times of the year.

“We now have a much clearer picture of what to expect in future years and will incorporate these learnings into our business planning and marketing.”