Extra train carriages are being laid on for rugby fans planning a trip to this weekend’s Melrose Sevens tournament.
ScotRail has confirmed that 17 Borders Railway services in each direction between Edinburgh and Tweedbank on Saturday will have at least four carriages, and some will have five or six.
That’s on top of the seven trains with extra seats each way introduced in December, so that means three-quarters of services on Saturday will be at least four carriages long.
Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale MSP Christine Grahame has welcomed that boost for train travellers, saying: “The Melrose Sevens is a huge event for the local area and draws thousands of spectators from all over Scotland and, indeed, the world.
“With the Borders Railway, it follows that many of these visitors will take advantage and travel down to Tweedbank and onwards to Melrose.
“It’s great to see that ScotRail has been proactive in responding to this and ensuring an improved service for passengers.
“It will undoubtedly be a busy service, but these additional carriages will provide crucial extra capacity.
“I’m encouraging ScotRail to also consider providing additional carriages for the common ridings over the summer to increase the numbers of people visiting the Borders to experience all we have to offer.”
Melrose’s is the oldest rugby sevens tournament in the Borders, and the Aberdeen Asset Management-sponsored event, being played for the 126th time, celebrates its 134th anniversary this year.
It attracts 10,000-plus spectators and participants to the 2,500-population town annually, and around 1,200 of them used the 30-mile Borders Railway, opened the previous September, and linking shuttle buses to travel to the event last year.
Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland said: “Scotland’s history and culture are among the top reasons for visiting Scotland, and we hope to encourage visitors to make the journey on the Borders Railway to soak up the atmosphere at one of the key events in the country’s sporting calendar.”
Melrose Rugby Club president Trevor Jackson said: “The Borders Railway is a fantastic way for visitors to travel to the Aberdeen Asset Management Melrose Sevens.
“Visitors will be able to relax and enjoy the scenic route all the way from Waverley Station, through Midlothian and into the Scottish Borders.
“Once at Tweedbank, people will have the choice of jumping on a shuttle bus for the short trip to Melrose or enjoying a beautiful walk along the River Tweed to get to the event.”
ScotRail Alliance commercial director Cathy Craig added: “It’s great that the Borders Railway can help rugby fans travel to watch the Melrose Sevens, and I hope we’ll be welcoming many more of them this year.
“The new line grows in popularity, and every single day it’s enabling people to commute, visit family and friends and travel to the likes of the Melrose Sevens.
“I ask everyone who’s intending to travel by train to the matches on April 8 to plan ahead, buy their tickets in advance and arrive at the station in plenty of time as services will be busy that day.”
For details of the tournament, go to melrose7s.com
Some 20 teams from across Scotland will be competing, alongside guest sides from London’s Harlequins and Sweden.