RAIL bosses insist they are stepping up their game to promote the region as a tourist destination.

At Wednesday's meeting of Galashiels Community Council, chiefs admitted services on the Borders Railway hadn't been up to scratch.

But James Ledgerwood, ScotRail's head of economic development and communities, said the company was now on the right track to make improvements.

He said: "There has been a big demand on the Borders Railway. A total of £1.7 million passengers are using the line every year.

"However, we realise the standard in the Borders has fallen beneath what is expected, but our teams are working hard to improve services.

"The challenge will be to keep the passenger numbers as high as they have been over the past three years and we will need the local council and businesses to continue to promote it.

"One of the things we have also done is put books in Edinburgh hotel rooms.

"They include information about the Borders and the Borders Railway.

"We have big ambitions. We have the Great Tapestry of Scotland coming here to Galashiels and we have to make sure that is well publicised.

"We will also be doing the same with big events such as the Melrose 7s."

However, members of the community council said big improvements would have to be made to encourage people to continue taking the train.

Bill White said: "I use the railway regularly and I have to check my phone at five in the morning just to make sure the 7am train is on.

"And it is alright getting up to Edinburgh, but you also want to be able to come back when you want to.

"Recently, I went for the train at 2pm and didn't get one until 5pm due to cancellations."

But Mr Ledgerwood replied: "There has been a lack of rolling stock available and driver training has also been a problem.

"We have also faced issues concerning overtime and rest-day-working, but this has now been resolved with the union.

"We will also see more 170 class trains on the line in the future, which will also help improve the service.

"By the end of 2019, a total of 2,500 services will be run by ScotRail each day. It's a massive level of service and I don't think may people realise that.

"To put it into perspective, the likes of Virgin and LNER only run about 80-100 per day. It's a big task."