Just a year after CBR – together with Claudia Beamish MSP – persuaded Transport Minister Keith Brown that the Tweedbank station tracks should be extended to handle 12-coach tourist charter trains, there’s more good news on the campaigning front. Transport Scotland’s recent Draft Invitation to Tender for the ScotRail franchise reveals that CBR’s lobbying for timetable flexibility to allow charters to reach Tweedbank on peak demand day – Saturdays – has been successful. Section 2.6 of the document specifies that:
“The Scottish Ministers consider that it is desirable to allow the operation of charter and tourist services by other operators on this route to promote tourism. The Franchisee will be required to facilitate such operation, and cooperate through alterations to its regular timetabled service, at no additional cost.”
Over many years, CBR (and formerly the Waverley Route Trust) has been arguing that its research demonstrated that some 50% of charter train arrivals at Scottish destinations are on Saturdays – generally in the middle of the day – but that the half-hourly ScotRail train service frequency left no spare route capacity for charters except in the evenings and on Sundays. Now the Borders Railway will be able to welcome trains from across Britain bringing valuable additional visitor spend to the regional economy.
It’s unfortunate that the limitations of Transport Scotland’s infrastructure specification means that the price of properly tapping the charter market is dropping the ScotRail frequency to hourly for a few hours on Saturdays (mostly during the summer) – but at least trains can be operated with double the number of seats at these times.