"SOMEWHAT surprised and disappointed" — that's how Scottish transport chiefs described their response to a train firm's regulation-busting Covid travel advice.

LNER came under fire last month for telling passengers they didn't have to adhere to Scottish Government rules after crossing the Border into Scotland.

Now emails have emerged showing how Transport Scotland called on the UK Government-owned train firm to backtrack.

In July the carrier said that, regardless of where on the line its cross-Border shuttles were, it would operate under updated English guidance for "consistency", meaning it would no longer require physical distancing or mask-wearing.

It claimed that move was made after it had "reached an agreement with Transport Scotland".

But the Holyrood agency disputed this, with Transport Secretary Michael Matheson calling LNER's position "unacceptable" and his Constitution Secretary colleague Angus Robertson asking: "LNER is a train company owned by the UK Government. Is it still maintaining that when it operates in Scotland it is going to disregard Scottish public health and safety coronavirus rules?"

READ MORE: Matheson says Cop26 could be 'one of our last chances'

Those comments were amongst a volley of complaints from members of the public and LNER backtracked on the guidance, saying: "We have made adjustments to our approach to support physical distancing on board LNER services in Scotland.

"Our reservation system spaces customers through our trains and we are also informing customers of which are our busier services, and helping customers should they wish to change their seats or travel plans.

"Our on-board colleagues will make announcements on trains advising of social distancing rules in Scotland, and assisting them to move seats if they need or prefer."

In newly disclosed emails, a Transport Scotland representative sends the offending guidance to LNER, asking for an immediate correction and saying: "I am somewhat surprised and disappointed to read the assertion below that Transport Scotland would be content to approve non-compliance with Scottish law on trains in Scotland. I can confirm that is not the case."

In response, LNER says: "We are very sorry about that. It was poor wording on our part and the error was entirely unintentional."

Asking the transport body to "please accept our apologies", the firm confirmed it had updated its advice to tell people that "social distancing guidance remains in place in Scotland" and "face coverings remain mandatory", despite English rule relaxations.

READ MORE: Scottish Government seeks to make emergency Covid powers permanent

Transport Scotland later accepted the changes, but added: "On a point of information, the term 'social distancing' applies in England and Wales, the term 'physical distancing' in Scotland. I'll leave you to reflect on that matter."

The Scottish Government said: "All rail operators within Scotland, including LNER, are required to follow Scottish Government guidance with regards to the wearing of face coverings and physical distancing onboard services.

"Some incorrect guidance was provided by LNER on 16 July.  After representation from Transport Scotland, an apology was made and the public notification changed."