UPDATE: ScotRail warned it risks losing passengers for good after Borders Railway fiasco
Borders politicans are warning rail bosses that disruption on the Borders Railway must stop or they risk losing passengers for good.
The region’s MPs and MSPs have appealed to ScotRail chiefs to “stop letting Borderers down” before passengers “desert the train for good”.
It comes after widespread cancellations and disruption across Scotland’s rail network left hundreds of passengers on the Edinburgh to Tweedbank line experiencing delays, cancellations and overcrowded carriages on Saturday.
Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale MSP Christine Grahame said: “I’m not happy to hear of the disruption at Waverley on Saturday and the subsequent knock on effects on the Borders Railway, it must have been utterly frustrating for passengers caught up in it.
“I understand the chaos was a chain reaction from a trespasser on the line and a broken down train at Linlithgow.
“I accept certain issues may be unavoidable given how many trains run on the system, although it’s not clear yet whether this train was one of those still under warranty from the manufacturer for maintenance or whether ScotRail was responsible for its upkeep.
“Having said that, the last weekend of the Fringe and the rugby international are both events that ScotRail knew about well in advance so I’d have expected a more resilient performance following any issues and much better communication with passengers, the whole system grinding to a halt is simply not acceptable as ScotRail have now acknowledged.
“I understand ScotRail are now conducting an investigation into what happened and I await the outcome of that.
“I’d be happy to hear from any constituents about their experiences if they wished to get in touch with me. In the meantime I have written to Alex Hynes CE of ScotRail to ask if he can provide me with more details.”
Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire MSP, Rachael Hamilton, meanwhile, has written to the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
Mrs Hamilton said: “Constituents get in touch with me time and time again about poor service on the Borders Railway when there is big event like the rugby on in Edinburgh and unfortunately this past weekend was no different.
“People use the train in good faith because they know the roads in Edinburgh will be busy at these times. However, the expectations of ordinary people looking to enjoy a jaunt in the big lights of the city are falling flat by overcrowded trains and cancellations.
“I have heard that some people have had to pay for eye watering taxi fares out of their own pocket to get home to the Borders from the capital as they had no other option.
“ScotRail and the Scottish Government must get on top of this situation before Borderers desert the train for good.”
John Lamont MP added: “Passengers on the Borders Railway were promised a better service but the chaos at the weekend seems to be a return to what passengers have become used too: cancellations and over crowding.
“This is all the more disappointing because at the meeting I arranged in Galashiels, senior Scotrail managers looked their customers in the eyes and promised improvements would be made.
“ScotRail need to sort these issues out once and for all, otherwise people are going to stop relying on the Borders Railway and switch to their cars or simply cancel trips to the Borders.
“In order to get the railway extended we need the line to be a success but at the moment ScotRail are letting passengers down.”