Rachael Hamilton is Conservative MSP for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire

We deserve a better Borders Rail service

We are all familiar with the phrase ‘you wait a long time for a bus, and two come at once’, but when it comes to trains, you wait ages and quite often, none turn up at all!

My Conservative colleagues, John Lamont MP, Michelle Ballantyne MSP and I have been out at stations along the Borders Railway campaigning for a better service. No one doubts it is a fantastic piece of infrastructure, opening up the Borders, but it is as useful as a chocolate fireguard when the trains on it are delayed or cancelled altogether.

On our leaflets, we asked commuters to fill out a survey to tell us of their experiences. The survey can be completed at https://www.rachaelhamilton.co.uk/form/borders-railway, and it calls on the SNP Government and ScotRail to deploy new rolling stock to the Borders Railway by the end of 2019 to alleviate overcrowding.

It was ironic that during my visit to Tweedbank to speak to commuters, the 08:28 peak time train was reduced to two carriages. I cringed at the thought of how overcrowded that rush hour train would have been by the time it got to Newtongrange and Gorebridge. People are fed up of this in the mornings and it is becoming a massive inconvenience. I have had regular letters from constituents who have missed appointments and are being fined for picking up their children late from nursery.

Thankfully, I had the opportunity to seek reassurances on improvements from ScotRail’s Alex Hynes at a Holyrood committee last week. He promised that performance is steadily improving on the Borders Railway, and the clearing of the driver-training backlog at Edinburgh will result in improvements from next week. This combined with the Remedial Plan will hopefully mean we will see an end to overcrowding and the widespread cancellations. On top of that, I have managed to arrange for ScotRail’s Sue Evans (communications director) and David Simpson (operations director) to meet with commuters and constituents in the coming weeks to discuss the poor performance of Scotrail.

I hope the slightly more positive news from Alex Hynes and the meeting with ScotRail’s management will help drive change, and ensure that the Borders Railway doesn’t revert back to delays and cancellations we have seen of late.

As ever, if ScotRail fails to deliver on its promises, you can be rest assured that I will stand up for hardworking Borders commuters, and will be straight on the phone to Alex Hynes and ScotRail.