ScotRail has announced it will add an extra 1500 seats a day on Borders Railway trains, as part of timetable improvements across Scotland.
The changes, to be introduced from December 15, will include two rush hour morning trains double their current size, following numerous reports of overcrowding on trains on Midlothian’s only railway, since it re-opened in 2015.
Scotrail has promised that the 7.26am and 7.59am services from Tweedbank to Edinburgh will have six carriages instead of the usual three. While only seven services will run with two carriages Monday to Friday, compared to 13 in the current timetable.
Christine Grahame, SNP MSP for Midlothian South, was a big supporter of the return of the former Waverley line, but she has been critical of the service with her constituents suffering due to delays and cancellations.
Cautiously welcoming the planned improvements, she said: “I’m happy to see capacity increasing on Borders Railway as overcrowding, particularly at rush hour, has been a real issue for my constituents.
“Indeed, earlier this year I had Alex Hynes, CEO of ScotRail, accompany me at my invitation on a rush hour service to see for himself the issues commuters faced.
“The Borders Railway continues to far exceed the passenger numbers predicted and planned for when it opened in 2015 – in that sense it is a great success, but it’s important the service continues to be adapted to provide a reliable and useable service for passengers, and to ensure it continues to be an asset to the area in future.
“Time will tell how successful these changes are in alleviating overcrowding and I’ll continue to keep an eye to this.
“In the interim I have already written to ScotRail to ask what measures are in place to support increased passenger numbers on the service over the festive period.”
Lothian MSP Miles Briggs (Con)said: “The announcement by ScotRail that they are introducing new timetables and increasing seat capacity on their trains is very welcome. Overcrowding on trains is a problem that has been going on far too long and late trains have been a regular inconvenience for people across Midlothian.”
Further timetable improvements have been promised by Scotrail in May and December 2020.
Speaking about this latest timetable change, David Simpson, ScotRail operations director, said:“The improvements we are making to our timetable from December will deliver even more benefits for our customers, delivering more seats and more services.
“The £475 million investment in new and upgraded trains and the infrastructure improvements across the country are all part of building the best railway Scotland has ever had.”
Bill Reeve, Transport Scotland’s director of rail said: “Passengers will welcome many of the changes up and down the country.
“This shows our significant investment is delivering more seats and more services than ever before.”
Under Abellio, ScotRail says it has invested more than £475 million in new and upgraded trains, meaning there are more than 2,400 trains running every weekday. This is an increase of nine per cent from 10 years ago, and is helping to deliver more than 97 million customer journeys each year.