Full steam ahead for Borders Railway

The Borders Railway continues to have a positive impact on the communities in which it serves, states new research published today (Monday 26 February).

The independent report highlights the on-going role that the Borders Railway plays in attracting people to live, work and visit the route after two years of operation.

Results found that the railway has been a major factor in people’s residential choices. With 58% of those surveyed who had recently moved house referencing the new line as having an influence on their decision to move, while of those who had changed workplace, 52% reported that the presence of the line had an impact on them moving job.

The publication is available through Transport Scotland’s website, with the two-year findings demonstrating the sustained positive impact that had been highlighted in a 2017 study looking at the first year of the service.

Humza Yousaf, Minister for Transport and the Islands said: “These latest findings demonstrate the sustained, positive and measurable impact that the introduction of the Borders Railway has had on the communities right along the line.

“The report is welcome evidence that Borders Railway continues to grow both in popularity and benefits to the local economy, not least with the increase in passengers numbers in the second year of service. It shows the railway is meeting its objectives by acting as a catalyst for investment while also enabling people to take up new opportunities.

“The success of the Borders line is clear evidence our efforts are helping to build the best railway Scotland has ever had.”

Danny Cusick of Scottish Enterprise and chair of the Borders Railway Blueprint Group added: “The line has already opened up the region along the route and provided opportunities for jobs and investment, helping to deliver sustainable growth and social benefits for the whole region. This research shows that the Borders Railway region is an excellent location to do business, to visit and to live in and we hope to see continued growth year on year.”

The independent report, commissioned by Transport Scotland and the Borders Railway Blueprint Group, was carried out by Peter Brett Associates. This latest research builds on findings published in a Stage 1 Evaluation, and evaluates the project’s success two years on from its reopening. The report demonstrates the impact of the line in driving visitor numbers and takes into account passengers’ views on service quality as well as perceived barriers to use.

The key findings include

Social and economic impact:

► Over 30% of respondents said that they did not previously make their current trip prior to the re-opening of the railway, suggesting the railway is enabling people to make new journeys and take up new opportunities

► The re-opening of the Borders Railway has provided those without a car the means to access the stations along the line more quickly, enabling them to access without using a car or using a car for only a portion of the journey

► There has been in-migration in both the Scottish Borders and Midlothian from surrounding areas, with the largest proportions moving from Edinburgh

► 18% of those who moved employment stated that the re-opening of the line been the main factor in their decision

► 60% of all respondents indicated that the purpose of their journey was either a tourist day trip or overnight stay

► Of these, 59% were travelling to Edinburgh and 41% were travelling to the Scottish Borders or Midlothian

► 71% of tourists said that the Borders Railway had been a factor in their decision to make their current trip 

Service Use

► In Year 2, overall travel on the line increased by 9.5% compared to Year 1

► Commuting is the most common journey purpose when travelling on the Borders Railway, accounting for 54% of annual single trips

► The majority of commuters (58%) start or end their journey at Edinburgh Waverley

► All new stations on the line generate more outbound than inbound travel, with the exception of Midlothian’s Eskbank station, which is a significant generator of inbound travel which may be associates with its proximity to Edinburgh College’s Midlothian Campus

► 56% of respondents live in the Scottish Borders compared to 10% from Edinburgh and 6% from Midlothian, and commuter journeys remain consistent with that of Year 1 at 65%

► A high proportion of leisure trips were recorded in the Year 2 report as opposed to Year 1, which is a result of the different time period in which the survey was carried out

Modal shift:

► 61% of respondents said that prior to the re-opening of the line they had regularly made the trip they were making at the time of the survey by another mode

► Of those that provided details of their previous mode of transport, the majority (64%) reported that they previously drove all the way to their destination

► From the sample alone, approximately 36,000 car journeys were saved annually

Non-usage and improvements:

► As in year 1, the most popular reason for not using the service was the greater convenience offers by car

► The cost and convenience of the bus followed as the second reason for non-use

► National Entitlement Card usage on buses was referenced in the report, with a greater proportion of Midlothian residents citing this relative to those from the Scottish Borders The full report can be found on Transport Scotland’s website from today, 26 February. For more information visit www.transport.gov.scot.