Borders Rail bosses under fire for axeing 15 services in one day

Borders Railway bosses have come in for criticism for mass cancellations of trains on the Tweedbank-to-Edinburgh route less than a week after the firm’s chief executive promised that improvements were imminent.

By Kirsty Smyth
Wednesday, 24th April 2019, 5:01 pm
Updated Wednesday, 24th April 2019, 5:10 pm
Borders MSP Christine Grahame at Tweedbank railway station.
Borders MSP Christine Grahame at Tweedbank railway station.

No fewer than 15 scheduled services were cancelled on the 30-mile line on Sunday as drivers were not available.

Speaking at the Borders Railway Community Partnership’s meeting in Galashiels on Tuesday, April 16, ScotRail boss Alex Hynes admitted that performance on the line had not been good enough and promised improvements by the end of May.

Raising the issue in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday, Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale MSP Christine Grahame said: “While I welcome Mr Hynes saying that improvements are imminent, cancelling 15 services on one day at the same time seems unbelievable.

“Given the glorious weather and bank holiday, many day-trippers would have been looking to use the line in both directions.

“I’ve no doubt local businesses and attractions such as Melrose and its abbey and even Abbotsford have missed out as a result.”

Insisting that the Borders is “getting a raw deal”, Ms Grahame said she has written to Mr Hynes to ask what steps are being taken to ensure cancellations are spaced out over the east coast lines and time-wise so that passengers are not stranded.

“How much notice does ScotRail aim to give passengers of such cancellations and how does it ensure as many as possible are reached?” she asked, adding: “I reiterate my invite for Mr Hynes to join me on a peak service on Borders Railway to see the challenges first hand.”

Borders rail users will have another chance to grill ScotRail executives at a public meeting in Galashiels on Thursday, May 9.

Organised by Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk MP John Lamont, the meeting will take place in the small lecture theatre at Borders College’s campus in Nether Road at 6.30pm.

Mr Lamont said: “Management at ScotRail appear to think it’s ok to cancel services in the Borders in order to transfer staff and trains to the central belt.

“I’d encourage anyone who is frustrated with the performance on the Borders Railway to come along to Borders College on May 9 to make it clear to ScotRail that the Borders should not be ignored.”

A spokesperson for ScotRail said: “This has been a challenging time for Scotland’s Railway, and we’re sorry to customers who have experienced disruption to their journey.

“Improving the service for our customers is what everyone across the ScotRail Alliance is working flat out to deliver. We are confident that the investment we are making will help us to give our customers the service they expect and deserve.”