A NEW key worker timetable will be introduced from Monday (March 23) on the Borders Railway.

In light of the coronavirus outbreak ScotRail is reducing services across the country.

The railway operator has been affected by staff availability as well as customer demand dropping significantly as more people work from home.

As of Monday, until further notice, the first train from Tweedbank each morning will leave at 6.58 with the first train from Edinburgh to the Borders, leaving at 7.22.

An hourly service will be observed throughout the day with the last train leaving Tweedbank at 7.31pm and the final train from Edinburgh leaving Waverley Station at 7.24pm.

David Simpson, ScotRail operations director, said: “We are facing an unprecedented challenge on Scotland’s Railway and the revised timetable will help to provide a critical service for the key workers across the country.

“Our own people are absolutely committed and are working flat out on the frontline to help keep the country moving, while also keeping themselves and customers safe.

“The railway has an important role to play during this crisis and we will work closely with the Scottish Government to do all we can as the situation develops.”

Reducing the number of trains in service will allow for additional cleaning of carriages, in depots and at stations.

And it will also provide additional opportunities for freight trains to have a priority.

Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said: “Moving to a reduced timetable will not only help ensure some passenger services continue to run, it will enable freight to be prioritised so goods and emergency supplies such as medicines can be moved around the country.

“Constructive dialogue has been held with rail unions with discussion focused on protecting rail staff while they make a significant contribution to keeping passengers and goods moving as much as possible in these challenging circumstances

“We are also investigating ways to provide proportionate relief to operators, while also ensuring contractual incentives remain to mitigate the impact of doing so.

"Any changes to rail franchise contracts, including funding mechanisms, will be made in the best interests of the public and business communities."