Borders rail travellers are ‘going free’

The Borders Railway opened in September.
The Borders Railway opened in September.

Borders Railway operators admit certain factors can combine to allow some passengers to board trains on the £300M line without tickets.

Several Borders residents who have used the line since it was opened by the Queen at the beginning of September say the carriages, especially on the weekend journeys to Edinburgh, seemed filled with dozens of people claiming to not having paid a fare at the station, but then also not having to pay on the train as there has been no rail staff selling or checking tickets on board.

One man even claimed that on one weekend trip, his wife had estimated that around 50% of fellow travellers in her carriage were making the journey for free.

Asked if he was aware of the situation, Scottish Borders Council leader David Parker said it was a problem that route operators, ScotRail, was aware of.

“When the train is very busy and overcrowded it’s quite difficult for conductors to get to everybody,” Mr Parker explained.

“They are improving this issue and are thinking carefully about it for the future, but because it is a new train service and they are keen to welcome and encourage passengers, they have also been taking a customer-friendly approach, particularly when it is very busy or when there are been delays or disruption. And it is not as high as fifty percent.”

A spokeswoman for ScotRail said the vast majority of its customers do purchase tickets before boarding trains, but that sometimes a combination of factors can result in people boarding trains without tickets.

She added: “Early next year we will be making positive changes in order to allow us to better implement our Buy Before You Board policy.”