South Scotland

Extra peak-time seats for Borders Railway

Train Image copyright Dougie Johnston
Image caption The peak-time trains will move from two carriages to four

ScotRail has revealed its plans to increase capacity on peak-time trains on the Borders Railway.

It will see capacity doubled on two "key" services and allow access to hundreds of additional seats each week.

It comes as first-year passenger numbers on the line between Edinburgh and Tweedbank were confirmed at 1.3m.

Transport Minister Humza Yousaf welcomed the increased capacity which will be available on the line from 12 December.

The number of carriages will be doubled from two to four on two peak-time trains:

  • 07:58 from Tweedbank to South Gyle
  • 16:52 Edinburgh Waverley to Tweedbank.

It will provide more than 270 extra seats each day and means that all services leaving Tweedbank between 07:00 and 08:00 will have at least three carriages.

The changes also mean four off-peak services every weekday will also gain an extra two carriages, adding a further 2,700 extra seats each week.

A limited number of Class 170 trains are also being introduced on the Borders line which will see a number of services throughout the day having three carriages instead of two.

'Strong demand'

Mr Yousaf said: "I am pleased that, working closely with ScotRail, extra capacity during the busy peak periods has been identified and secured for 2017.

"This is in addition to our commitment to provide more capacity from late 2018 onwards as a result of our investment into retaining 13 Class 170 trains as part of the Revolution in Rail service enhancements."

Phil Verster, managing director of the ScotRail Alliance, said the route was now "firmly established" as an "attractive and convenient public transport option, with strong demand, particularly at peak times".

"We have responded by making a number of changes to add capacity when it is most needed, providing our customers with more comfortable journeys to and from the capital," he said.

He also confirmed the 1.3m passenger figures for the first 12 months of operation which ScotRail said was "broadly in line with business case projections".

"Projections are just that; assumptions made about how many people are likely to travel at different times of the year," said Mr Verster.

'Shocking failure'

He said they now had a "clearer picture" of what to expect in years to come and would incorporate that into their business planning and marketing.

However, David Spaven of the Borders Rail Monitor Group said: "The big story here is the shocking failure of rail forecasting.

"All three Borders stations have performed massively better than forecast - more than 900% better in the case of Tweedbank, and more than 400% better at both Galashiels and Stow.

"But all four stations in Midlothian (with the exception of Newtongrange) have had substantially fewer passengers than expected."

He said it was encouraging that rail forecasting techniques were being reviewed.

"If we had had robust forecasting five years ago, the Borders stations' forecasts would not have been so ludicrously pessimistic," he said.

Mr Spaven said better forecasting would have made the project's business case "far better" and double tracking would not have been cut back, which could have provided a more reliable service.

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