Borders Railway not an easy target for cancellations, rail boss assures

ScotRail's communications director Sue Evans, John Lamont MP, operations director David Simpson and engineering director Syeda Ghufran.
ScotRail's communications director Sue Evans, John Lamont MP, operations director David Simpson and engineering director Syeda Ghufran.
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The Borders is no worse off than other regions when it comes to train cancellations, ScotRail bosses insist.

That assurance was given as around 60 Borderers told of cancellations and overcrowding on the Edinburgh-Tweedbank line at a public meeting with ScotRail chiefs in Galashiels last Thursday.

ScotRail’s operations director, David Simpson, responded to claims that the Borders was being penalised for its smaller population when it comes to deciding which trains to cancel on days affected by driver or conductor shortages.

He said: “I understand why you might feel like that, but we try to share the pain when we have driver shortages between the routes the Edinburgh depot serves – Cumbernauld, Fife, North Berwick and Tweedbank.

“There’s the odd day when the Borders really takes a hammering. Every morning we try to ensure any issues are evenly spread.

“These cancellations should not be the norm.”

Mr Simpson said he also found the complaints about reliability, safety and service “sobering and challenging” and admitted: “I know there is a lot of pent-up frustration, and I assure you that we share that frustration.”

He added that an increase in carriages, driver and conductors is on the way for the Borders Railway line.

Borders MP John Lamont, the meeting’s host, said: “There are a whole range of problems that ScotRail need to sort out and do so quickly, otherwise customers are going to stop using the railway and the campaign to get it extended will be undermined.”

“To give Scotrail some credit, they at least turned up to hear directly from residents.

“Time will tell whether ScotRail bosses can get to grips with this service, but they can be under no doubt now about the strength of feeling amongst Borders rail users.”