Borders rail OAPs and disabled denied cheap fares

Work is continuing on the Borders rail link. Picture: Scott Louden

Work is continuing on the Borders rail link. Picture: Scott Louden

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PENSIONERS and disabled people living along the Borders Railway will be denied cheap fares unlike those using nearby lines.

Midlothian and Scottish Borders councils have confirmed they will not offer discounts to residents using the Capital-Tweedbank route, which is due to open in September.

By contrast, people over 60 or with disabilities in neighbouring East and West Lothian are given a range of discounts, such as half-price travel on ­local lines.

Disability campaigners have branded the move “illogical”.

A total of 282,000 journeys were made using the West Lothian scheme last year and 136,000 in East Lothian.

Disabled people in the Capial are eligible for free rail travel across the Lothians as part of a Taxicard scheme.

The 30-mile route will have seven new stations south of the terminus at Newcraighall – four in Midlothian and three in the Borders.

The over-60s and disabled already qualify for free bus travel across Scotland.

Lobbying group the Scottish Accessible Transport Alliance (Sata) has called for a rethink on discount fares.

Spokesman Alan Rees said: “It is entirely illogical for concessionary rail fares to be available for disabled people travelling in and out of Edinburgh if they live in East or West Lothian, but not from the Scottish Borders or Midlothian.

“It is a matter for individual local authorities who fund them, but it is high time they all got their act together.”

Sata secretary Mike Harrison added: “Concessionary travel should be extended, especially for the benefit of people in areas with an infrequent or non-existent bus service. Trains are also often far more accessible.”

A spokesman from charity Age Scotland said: “It is very important for older people to be involved in community life, to get out and about and remain active and positive about their later years. The availability of quality and affordable, transport is central to achieving this goal.”

Simon Walton, chairman of the Campaign for Borders Rail, which lobbied for the line re-opening, said: “On the face of it, there is an inequality between councils. I can’t see why there is concessionary rail travel in one part of the country and not another.”

A spokeswoman for Midlothian Council said: “We don’t plan to offer concessionary fares for the Borders Railway. Concessionary fares will obviously still be available to groups from National Rail, while people who are blind or partially sighted will be eligible for concessions.”

alastair.dalton@jpress.co.uk