Christine Grahame: Rail problems need to be solved

The Flying Scotsman comes to the Borders... eventually.The Flying Scotsman comes to the Borders... eventually.
The Flying Scotsman comes to the Borders... eventually.
Well, the dust has settled after the Scottish Parliament election and I am delighted to be returned and with an increased majority.

For the next five years, representing the people of Midlothian South Tweeddale and Lauderdale is my priority and it matters not a whit who voted for me or not.

Swiftly following on from the parliament election, I was elected to one of the positions as deputy presiding officer for the Scottish Parliament.

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This means I chair some parliamentary debates and supervise part of Stage 3 (the final stage of bills) as well as other parliamentary duties.

It is a privilege and a responsibility, but it will not affect my constituency duties. Because of the various ridings and festivals, which are mostly on Saturdays, I have parked my Saturday surgeries until after the summer.

I will still be available mainly on Mondays and Fridays for face-to-face if necessary.

The Railway

First, there was the fiasco of the Flying Scotsman (courtesy of Network Rail UK) but thank due goodness to lots of people pulling together it was resolved.

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The intervention of politicians across the spectrum – the minister for transport, and I suspect Phil Verster of Scotrail made Network Rail do an about turn.

We still need an enquiry to get to the bottom of why this happened in the first place, and while I am at it, why does the Scottish Government not have Networkrail in Scotland under its remit?

For the Scottish minister for transport to find out through Twitter that a cancellation was on the cards is beyond comprehension.

But there are other issues which give me continuing concern. I regularly travel on the Borders Railway and have twice experienced timetabling problems which, on one occasion, meant the train simply did not stop as scheduled at Newtongrange where my car was parked.

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I had to catch a train from Shawfair, Tweedbank-bound to pick up my car.

Now I say this not for my own sake, but for other travellers who might have very pressing reasons to alight as rightly expected at the correct station.

Then there was the train breaking down at Eskbank just after I had got on at Shawfair. At Eskbank, there were some 10 or so pre-school children primed for their day trip on the train and a railway buff and his wife up from Surrey to travel on the famous route and all disappointed. The children went back to their nursery and the couple; well they were offered a taxi to Tweedbank.

All this is not good news, to put it mildly, and I am seeking an early meeting with Phil Verster to pursue these issues.

The Stations

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I am hoping the various community councils and so on do have those flower troughs and hanging baskets up soon, once the frosts are passed.

Gorebridge is first off the mark, and those flower barrels and troughs are in place. Gala is soon up with its Braw Lad and Lass and I feel a black and white station theme coming on... White geraniums and trailing lobelia in black troughs anyone?