More Borders Railway concerns

GV of the railway flyover at the roundabout where the A7 and the B6392 meet between Bonyrigg and Newtongrange .
GV of the railway flyover at the roundabout where the A7 and the B6392 meet between Bonyrigg and Newtongrange .

Local MSP Christine Grahame has again raised the cancellations on the Borders Railway in Parliament, after 15 “planned cancellations” on Easter Sunday on the line.

Midlothian South MSP Ms Grahame (SNP) has raised the poor service on the Borders Railway on a number of occasions in parliament, previously calling for the First Minister to tell ScotRail it was in the “Last Chance Saloon” as a result of its performance on the line.

Alex Hynes, the CEO of ScotRail, subsequently conceded at a recent public meeting in Galashiels that service levels had not been good enough on the line, pledging increased carriages and updated trains would be in place in “months not years” and that he aims to have cleared the backlog of driver training, which appears to be responsible for many of the cancellations, by the end of May.

Ms Grahame said: “I am a passionate advocate of the benefits of Borders Railway, having campaigned for its re-opening since my election in 1999. Those benefits, however, are only felt when the service operates at a level where passengers can actually rely on it.

“While I welcome Alex Hynes (ScotRail CEO) saying that improvements are imminent, but at the same time cancelling 15 services on one day 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 Newtongrange Mining Museum, Melrose and its Abbey and even Abbotsford have missed out as a result.

“My concern is that the Borders Railway is getting a raw deal in this.

“I have therefore written to Mr Hynes to ask what steps are taken to ensure cancellations are spaced out over the East Coast lines and indeed to ensure time wise so as 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?

“I reiterate my invite for Mr Hynes to join me on a peak service on Borders Railway to see the challenges first hand. I await his response.”