A GROUP representing small businesses has warned that continued disruption to services on the Borders Railway threatens to jeopardise the region’s tourist industry.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), which has around 19,000 members in Scotland and campaigns for “a better social, political and economic environment in which small businesses can thrive,” has called on ScotRail to improve rail services.

The Borders Railway has been beset by delays and cancellations in recent weeks and operator ScotRail has faced political pressure to improve service.

Borders FSB member, Hans Waltl, said: “The Borders has big tourism ambitions but poor service on the Borders Railway is putting these at risk.

“Rarely a day goes by now when we are not seeing reports of serious overcrowding and disruption affecting the line.

“These problems are bad enough for commuters using the line on a daily basis but the negative stories also risk putting off potential visitors to the Borders, hoping to use the railway to access local businesses and attractions.

“Indeed, it is to be hoped that this weekend’s Melrose Sevens will not be adversely affected by service failures.

“Bringing Galashiels and Tweedbank to within an hour’s rail journey from the centre of Edinburgh is devalued if visitors can’t get on a crowded train or if the service is cancelled altogether.

“Longer term, the hope held out by the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal of extending the Borders Railway via Hawick to Carlisle will be strengthened by the delivery of a popular and reliable service on the existing line.

“It is high time that Abellio ScotRail got its act together and delivered the kind of service that local people and businesses deserve.

“The economic potential offered by the railway will only be fulfilled when trains run when they are supposed to and with enough seating to match demand.”