MSPs voice concerns about Borders Railway cancellations

A Borders Railway service arriving at Stow.
A Borders Railway service arriving at Stow.

More than 1,000 journeys on the Borders Railway have been cancelled since the line’s opening two years ago, it has been revealed.

Figures released by ScotRail show that between September 6, 2015 – services having been operated for three days ahead of the track’s official opening – and August 14 this year, 1,182 trains were cancelled either in full or in part out of 40,176 planned to run.

Some 4,099 services were five minutes or more later than their timetabled arrival time.

Over that period, 13% of trains – one in seven of them – failed to meet industry performance targets.

The latest moving annual average public performance measure target, for July 23 to August 19, was 91.1%, but the Borders Railway’s record at Tweedbank was 88.6%, more than 2% adrift of that.

The Borders’ two constituency MSPs have voiced concern about those figures and urged transport chiefs to buck up their act.

Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire MSP Rachael Hamilton said: “Since its reopening, the Borders Railway has become an important, valued and much-loved mode of transport. Overall it has been a success.

“However, over 1,000 trains being cancelled and over 4,000 arriving late since it reopened is a little disappointing, and there is definitely room for improvement.

“I think everyone who uses it regularly has experienced a late or even a cancelled train, and that is frustrating for both passengers and the Borders Railway.

“I want to see these incidences of cancelled and delayed trains become less frequent and for the Borders line to become a constant highlight of people’s visit or commute to and from the Borders.

Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale MSP Christine Grahame, due to meet ScotRail Alliance chief executive officer Alex Hynes yesterday, agreed, saying: “I campaigned for the reopening of the Borders Railway for a number of years, and whilst it is now undoubtedly a fantastic asset to the area, it’s important that performance on the line is continually looked at and improved.

“The Borders Railway has proven more of a success than many anticipated, and that shows in the passenger numbers on many services.

“It’s therefore disappointing when things go awry and leave people stranded.”

A spokeswoman for ScotRail said: “We know that delays and cancellations are incredibly frustrating for our customers, and we are working hard to deliver an ever better rail service for the Borders.

“Customers delayed 30 minutes or more, regardless of cause, are entitled to compensation through our delay repay scheme.

“Anyone affected should keep hold of their tickets and make a claim.”