RAIL supporters are celebrating a year of trains in the Borders with enthusiasm and optimism, despite continued concerns over cancellations and overcrowding.

The first passenger trains arrived at Stow and Galashiels on September 6, 2015, after an absence of 46 years.

And three days later the world's media focused in on the region as The Queen officially opened the 35-mile line at Tweedbank during the day she became Britain's longest-serving monarch.

Official figures - expected to show that well over one million passenger journeys have been made in the first 12 months - will be released later this week to highlight how the trains have exceeded the first-year forecasts of 650,000 trips.

And the economical impact which was expected to follow the carriages down the tracks is also showing signs of fruition.

But continued problems over staff shortages, unreliable diesel trains and line faults have seen many services cancelled.

A two-carriage policy has also seen many passengers having to stand for large parts of their journey due to overcrowding.

Allan McLean, the retired railway manager who chairs the Campaign for Borders Rail believes the problems can be overcome and the successes of the first year should lead to fresh impetus for extending the Borders Railway beyond Tweedbank.

Mr Mclean told us: "The experience of serving many more people than the numbers of passengers officially expected should help inform preparations for future services.

"Problems that have been experienced can be overcome and should not hinder progress towards extension of the railway,

"I appreciate that it will take time to extend the railway. In the meantime, there is an opportunity to enhance the existing service to make it more reliable.

"Cancellations and delays to the current trains must not hinder future development.

"In fact, recent experience can inform the future so that lessons are learned to maximise the very real benefits that a reliable train service can bring.”

New research from estate agents Savills has shown that the number of property transactions in communities along the line has increased by 15 per cent, year on year, since the reopening.

In Midlothian, Eskbank, Newtongrange and Gorebridge have all enjoyed healthier house markets.

And in Stow transactions have increased by 26 per cent with the average value increasing by 11 per cent to £136,822.

Tweedbank and St Boswells have also shown year on year increases in housing sales with average values increasing by five per cent.

Anna Gardiner of Savills Country Houses team said: "The Borders Railway was eagerly anticipated by existing residents, looking to access all that Edinburgh has to offer from jobs, highly regarded schools and vibrant culture.

"Equally, there was latent demand from developers and buyers, particularly those with growing families, who had been priced out of an overheated Edinburgh market."

VisitScotland has also indicated that year on year figures for tourism are likely to have exceeded expectations.

And several high-profile companies have already located and expanded into the region on the back of the railway.

Although it will take many more birthdays before the full extent of the Borders Railway is having on the region, Scottish Borders Council and its partnership agencies are driving ahead with their proactive Blueprint programme.

Council leader David Parker believes that a ripple effect will see more and more Borders communities benefit from the return of the railway.

He said: “It is important that the economic benefits of the Borders Railway spread across the wider Scottish Borders so that as many people as possible benefit from it, and this is something that Scottish Borders Council will continue to work hard on.

“One year since it opened, the railway is starting to help transform the Scottish Borders economy, from increasing tourism to assisting in the growth of key areas such as the food and drink and creative sectors, and the passenger numbers to date highlight the potential for the area.

“Working with our partners, we are aiming to capitalise on the opportunities presented through the Borders Railway Blueprint programme.

“The programme aims to deliver a range of economic benefits and encourage businesses to take advantage of the many development opportunities available in the region, which has been opened up to a greater audience by the Borders Railway."