Extra carriages on the way for Borders track
Plans to boost the capacity of busy services on the Borders Railway are nearing completion, according to Scottish Government transport minister Humza Yousaf.
In a statement to Parliament last week, Mr Yousaf confirmed that moves to provide additional carriages on peak-time services are on track.
Additional carriages are due to be in place from this month onwards as part of a plan to tackle overcrowding, delays and cancellations.
The statement came as part of the transport minister’s announcement of plans to improve ScotRail’s performance including a £5bn, five-year transformation programme.
Mr Yousaf said: “Overcrowding is frustrating. That is why, from mid-December, we will have introduced more services to and from Inverness and are finalising details to provide more carriages on peak-time services on the Borders Railway.
That pledge has been welcomed by rail campaigners.
Campaign for Borders Rail spokesman Atholl Innes said: “This is very welcome as too many trains are overcrowded as well as being cancelled, and that is very disappointing in trying to promote a new railway.
“The quicker we get more coaches and the more reliable the trains are the better. I hope these additional coaches will be put in place permanently.”
The group’s chairman, Allan McLean, added: “The Campaign for Borders Rail welcomes proposed improvements to performance and capacity on the Borders Railway as well as its extension to serve more communities directly”.
The ScotRail Alliance performance improvement plan lays out actions that will be taken to improve performance.
It promises that a review to improve the punctuality and reliability of the £350m Borders route that began in September will be completed by May next year.
The current ScotRail fleet will benefit from a £475m budget set aside for its modernisation and the addition of new trains.
Some £14m of that budget will be spent on improving the reliability and comfort of the class 158 diesel fleet serving much of rural Scotland, including the Borders.
The diesel fleet will see upgrades to its engine radiator system carried out by G&M Radiators in Glasgow.
The firm was visited by the transport minister last Friday, and he said: “These upgrades to the engine radiator system not only help lift the fleet performance, but the work also gives a welcome boost to a longstanding family company and local Scottish jobs.
“Everyone rightly expects a railway network that operates effectively, so when things go wrong, I fully understand the dissatisfaction of passengers and the inconvenience that is caused.
“Although there are no guarantees major failures won’t happen, I give my reassurance that ScotRail has learned lessons and is far better prepared for contingencies, including communication with passengers, when such incidents do take place.
“I have no intention of underplaying the effect of a slide in service quality.
“The actions we are taking and the long-term transformation we have planned underlines this Government’s commitment to improving the service received.
“That is why I instructed an improvement plan.
He added: “Our commitment to our railways is undeniable - we want to see a vibrant, growing industry with more seats and services than ever before. I remain focussed on ensuring the best outcome for passengers - a franchise which delivers for Scotland.”