ScotRail pledges improvements

Borders rail plagued by unreliability issues

Borders RailThe Borders railway service continues to be hampered by delays and cancellations caused poor-performing trains and bad planning, according to analysis published today.

ScotRail has admitted a need to tackle ongoing problems which have been highlighted in The Borders Rail Monitor.

It says bad decisions such as singling the track and using old locomotives on the route with have added to unreliability.

Campaigners Bill Jamieson and David Spaven compiled the report from Network Rail and timetable data for the line connecting Edinburgh and Tweedbank which opened in September 2015.

ScotRail said improvements were needed but blamed Transport Scotland for the “constrained infrastructure specification for the Borders Railway and the decision to deploy Class 158 units – the least reliable diesel units in Scotland – for a route with steep gradients and multiple stops on every train service.”

Trains have arrived within target at Tweedbank on only 12 weeks out of 52 while those from Tweedbank arrived at Waverley on time on only seven weeks out of 52.

Trains along the 35-mile route were cancelled in all but five weeks.

The report calls for:

  • Improving the efficiency of door opening and closing.
  • Increasing the number of coaches on busier services.
  • Replacing defective radiators on the Class 158s.
  • Improving the maintenance regime for the coaches.
  • Redeploying more reliable 3-car Class 170 units.
  • Replacing faulty signalling equipment on the route.

Despite its problems the line has proved popular with more than a million passengers travelling on it since it was opened by the Queen on 9 September last year.


A ScotRail spokeswoman said: “Borders Railway has been an extraordinary success.

“We are now providing people with an alternative way of travelling to work, to visit friends and family and to use for leisure.

“There have been some challenges and we’re determined to find the solutions that overcome them and see even more customers travelling on the line in year two and beyond.”

Transport Scotland said: “The ScotRail 158 fleet is currently undergoing a £14m refurbishment programme delivering significant upgrades to on-train facilities.

“As more refurbished trains are completed they will be rolled out onto central belt routes, including Borders, next year, increasing capacity and reliability for passengers on the Borders Railway.

“Additionally, the electrification of the Central Belt rail network and the introduction of our new electric fleet of trains means there will be extra capacity on peak Borders services from 2017.”

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