A new offer has been launched which offers a 50 per cent discount to a companion of a visually impaired person travelling on the Borders Railway.
The concession is available thanks to £20,000 worth of funding from Scottish Borders Council (SBC) and support from ScotRail.
The half price offer applies to single or return travel to Edinburgh from Tweedbank, Galashiels and Stow, with restrictions to peak travel applying.
The scheme is initially being run for one year to allow evaluation of the trial to take place.
The pass can be applied for at any SBC contact centre with ID, proof of address, a passport size photo and eligibility proof required.
Anyone severely sight impaired (previously blind) is automatically eligible for a +1 companion card, and if sight impaired (previously partially sighted) they will need to provide evidence that they meet certain criteria.
To find out if eligible call SBC’s Customer Advice and Support Service on 0300 100 1800.
Just under 300 blind and partially sighted persons apply for a concessionary travel pass in the Scottish Borders, with almost 200 of them taking up the +1 option for free bus travel for their companions.
Darrin Pope from Tweedbank has a sight impairment and the new scheme will allow his wife Elizabeth to travel at half price.
Darrin said: ‘I am extremely pleased this new offer is in place. It will make a huge difference for us travelling to Edinburgh as it is too difficult for me to travel on my own.
‘The Borders Railway has made a big difference to our lives. We don’t have a car so the railway has allowed us to do a lot more.’
Councillor John Greenwell, SBC’s equalities champion, said: ‘The Borders Railway has had a hugely positive economic impact on our area, but equally as important is the difference it has made to the lives of local people for work, education and leisure in the three years since it opened.
‘That is why this new pilot scheme is to be welcomed, allowing a friend or family member to accompany someone with a +1 companion card to travel along the railway to Edinburgh with a 50 per cent discount and potentially access other areas of Scotland.
‘We believe this scheme could provide a series of benefits, such as encouraging use of public transport, improving the environment and providing advantages for physical health and social interaction.’
ScotRail head of revenue development Claire Dickie said: ‘We are doing all we can to make rail travel as simple as possible and we are delighted to offer our support to this pilot scheme.
‘We are committed to making the railway open and accessible to all and this is a fantastic opportunity for us to demonstrate that commitment and encourage people to use ScotRail services.’