MP Michael Moore has received assurances from Transport Minister, Keith Brown, that the Borders railway is not facing cost-cutting measures which would increase journey times.
There were reports that there were plans to cut the cost of the project by reducing the length of crossing loops which could increase journey times between Tweedbank and Edinburgh beyond the 55 minute maximum planned.
In his response, Mr Brown said there has been ‘no change’ to the specification on the journey time requirement for the service. While there are discussions underway with Network Rail on ‘optimising loop lengths to achieve best value for money’, he said these were not critical to achieving the journey time requirement.
Mr Moore also called for the lengthening of the platform at Tweedbank to accommodate trains with 10 to 11-cars instead of being limited to six cars. In response, Mr Brown said the infrastructure at Tweedbank would be capable of accommodating standard Scotrail passenger services of six car trains with an ability to extend to nine car trains.
Mr Moore said: “I am grateful to Mr Brown for his response which outlines that journey times of under an hour are not under threat as a result of discussions with Network Rail over loop-lengths. It is vital that the railway provides a viable alternative to travelling by car and this can only be achieved if the service is reliable and time-efficient. I am therefore very pleased that Mr Brown has given assurances that the time requirement for the journey between Tweedbank and Edinburgh is being protected. It is also good to hear that the platforms will be able to take trains of up to nine cars. Although this is slightly less than the hoped-for 10 to 11-car trains, I am glad that the platforms are not limited to six cars.”