Borders Railway passengers share anger after train chaos at Waverley station

Passengers wait for the 21.56 train to leave Edinburgh's Waverley station. (Pic: Ross Ryrie)
Passengers wait for the 21.56 train to leave Edinburgh's Waverley station. (Pic: Ross Ryrie)

Hundreds of passengers on the Borders Railway were hit by cancellations, delays and overcrowding of services between Tweedbank and Edinburgh on Saturday.

Trains throughout the day were filled to capacity but passengers hoping to travel home between 9pm and 11pm were hit with the most disruption after the 8.55pm train was cancelled and hundreds of passengers were left stranded on the platform when the following train, an hour later, had only two carriages and was delayed almost 40 minutes.

ScotRail bosses are being urged to buck up their act as angry customers question why the apparent meltdown of the service, also affecting trains across the central belt, was allowed to happen.

In May the firm promised more carriages on days when an bigger demand on the line was expected.

And with Murrayfield hosting the Scotland v France rugby international, the final Edinburgh Royal Military Tattoo performance and the penultimate day of the Fringe festival all falling on Saturday, angry passengers have been questioning what went wrong.

Ross Ryrie, who tried to catch the 10.55pm train on Saturday told us: “The combination of the Edinburgh’s festival and a big rugby match meant it was always going to be busy and ScotRail only provided a train with three carriages which led to chaotic scenes and some very angry people.

“People were squashed into the train and many left stranded on the platform.

“I spoke to a police officer and a train driver both of whom very helpful, who said that the situation was appalling and should never have been allowed to happen.

“How can we trust ScotRail to provide the service they claim to provide, when they can’t anticipate when their is going be big demand for trains.

“How could they know it was going to be so busy yet not provide adequate trains?”

Other angry passengers took to social media to vent their frustration.

Belinda McClung, who had to fork out £120 for a taxi home with friends, said: “Thanks ScotRail! Cancelled trains, trains with two pathetic carriages resulting in utter carnage at Waverley.

“You will be getting out taxi bill back to the Borders.”

Tracy Borthwick described the management of the Borders line as “absolutely diabolical” in a message to the firm.

She said: “A few of my friends and I made our way to Waverley to catch the 21.56 train to Tweedbank. However, upon arrival at the platform, found out that the 20.56 had been cancelled.

“This then meant that two trains worth of people were trying to squeeze on to two carriages.

“People were rammed on like livestock off to slaughter. It was so bad, when a lady fainted, people were unwilling to exit the train to allow her to get off and get first aid treatment.

“The driver then refused to set off and people were told to exit the train again and another two carriages were going to be added.

“This then meant that the train was going to be delayed by 37 minutes. We were also told that the 22.55 from platform 20 would have six carriages,, except when it arrived it actually only had four carriages and yet again, people were jam packed on with no room to move.

“The line has been open for nearly four years now, I would have thought you’d have been able to get all these issues rectified in this time. Scotland at Murrayfield and Hibs at Easter Road you could maybe be forgiven for if it wasn’t for the fact that the rugby has been well publicised over recent months.

“But, and this is the important bit here, the Fringe is always in August. Why can’t you plan ahead and realise that the trains will be busier during this time than a regular Saturday in February would be?

“The whole service is shambolic it really is and I think you need to seriously have a think and address some issues before something major happens as a direct result of your shoddiness and complete lack of planning. Sort it out.”

Kirsty Mcpherson, who managed to get onto the 21.56 train said: “It was quite scary. We didn’t know what was all happening outside the train.

“All we saw was the police. People were banging on the windows and swearing at us.

“ScotRail just told the ones on the train ‘don’t know why your all just wasting your time sitting there as you aren’t going anywhere’.

“So for a train we went for at 9pm we left at 10.35pm. It was shocking.

“I did see Glasgow train that was cancelled had a bus provided. The Borders is definitely the forgotten part of Scotland.”

A ScotRail spokesperson said cancellations were down to “crew issues”.

He said: “It is a very busy times as the last weekend of the Edinburgh Festival and the Scotland v France rugby international at Murrayfield.

“We’re sorry to our customers who have experienced disruption and busy services today.

“We do all that we can to meet demand.

“Every available train we have is out on the network to get our customers where they need to be.

“Customers delayed by 30 minutes or more are encouraged to claim for money back via our Delay Repay Guarantee on our website or mobile app.”