A SCHEME has been launched to give companions of visually impaired passengers cheaper tickets on the Borders Railway.

The £20,000 drive, which is being funded by Scottish Borders Council, will entitle travellers to a 50 per cent discount.

Around 300 blind or partially sighted people apply for a concessionary travel pass each year in the region – with almost 200 of them taking up the +1 option for free bus travel for their companions.

And now the offer is being made available on single or return rail travel to Edinburgh from Tweedbank, Galashiels and Stow.

Darrin Pope from Tweedbank, who is visually impaired, is delighted his wife Elizabeth can now travel at half price.

He told us: “I am extremely pleased this new offer is in place.

“It will make a huge difference for us travelling to Edinburgh as it is too difficult for me to travel on my own.

“The Borders Railway has made a big difference to our lives. We don’t have a car so the railway has allowed us to do a lot more.”

The scheme is initially being run for one year.

A +1 pass can be applied for at any council contact centre with ID, proof of address and eligibility and a passport size photo.

Councillor John Greenwell, SBC’s equalities champion, said: “The Borders Railway has had a hugely positive economic impact on our area, but equally as important is the difference it has made to the lives of local people for work, education and leisure in the three years since it opened.

“That is why this new pilot scheme is to be welcomed, allowing a friend or family member to accompany someone with a +1 companion card to travel along the railway to Edinburgh with a 50 per cent discount and potentially access other areas of Scotland.

“We believe this scheme could provide a series of benefits, such as encouraging use of public transport, improving the environment and providing advantages for physical health and social interaction.”

The drive is also being backed by ScotRail.

Claire Dickie from the company added: “We are doing all we can to make rail travel as simple as possible and we are delighted to offer our support to this pilot scheme.”

To find out if you are eligible for the discount card, call SBC’s customer advice and support service on 0300 100 1800.