Almost 695,000 trips have been made on the new Borders railway, exceeding the anticipated number of journeys by 22 per cent.
While travel chiefs had forecast 568,023 journeys on the new line, a total of 694,373 trips were made between September 6, 2015 and March 6 this year, according to Transport Scotland.
Transport Minister Humza Yousaf and Phil Verster, managing director of train operators ScotRail Alliance, teamed up to announce the figures at Waverley Station.
Mr Yousaf said: “These figures are fantastic news for the region, further justifying the decision to bring a railway line back to the Borders for the first time in over 40 years.”
Mr Vester said: “We are incredibly proud to operate services on the Borders Railway – a route which, as the numbers show, is hugely popular with our customers.”
The 35-mile route is now on course to notch up 270,000 more trips than forecast in its first year and is expected to celebrate its birthday with around 1.6 million trips.
However, the total could be even higher if large numbers of visitors join regular passengers over the summer.
Some of the seven new stations on the line have handled nearly ten times as many passengers as predicted, with Tweedbank seeing 184,000 trips compared to a forecast of 19,000. A high number of trips on the southern section of the line confounds original claims that most passengers would come from stations in Midlothian – where some critics of the project wanted the route terminated.
Allan McLean, chairman of the Campaign for Borders Rail, said: “The Borders Railway has proved to be a huge success. Some of us always knew it would be. Others took a negative view and they have been proved wrong.”