Caught napping

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As THE debate about overcrowding on the newly-opened Borders Railway rumbles on, Gordon Casely (Letters, 17 September) rightly expresses despair at “the sheer inability of both Abellio ScotRail and Transport Scotland to plan and provide for the custom of a new railway”.

It is certainly true that Abellio seems to have taken an unduly laid-back approach to coping with demand and ensuring that ticket machines actually work, which has left it on the back foot.

However, the company, as a new franchisee, was not 
involved in the pre-planning for the Borders Railway until very recently.

The SNP administration and Transport Scotland, on the other hand, have designed, funded and delivered this railway 
apparently with insufficient consideration being given to how to launch it properly and effectively to the travelling 
public.

In my correspondence with Transport Scotland two years ago it was evident that far 
too little thought was being given to ensuring that a half-hourly weekday service on the Borders line – a frequency specified by Transport Scotland – could be provided with the amount of suitable rolling stock which was known to be 
available.

Questions about this were dodged repeatedly, but it was depressingly clear that a problem was looming and nothing was being done about it.

Instead most of the focus was on procuring new electric trains for the Edinburgh-Glasgow line which – in due course but certainly not by this month – would allow the redeployment of surplus trains to other lines.

Transport Minister Derek Mackay has made clear his ­displeasure at the criticism of Borders overcrowding, insisting that the new railway is a success story.

Well, yes, its eventual construction and opening is little short of a miracle.

However, new railways require extra trains, and his administration and its officials have been caught napping in their neglect of that essential aspect of a successful launch of the service to Tweedbank.

Robert Drysdale

Primrose Bank Road

Edinburgh