On the right track

Earlier this year we saw more figures about Borders Railway continuing to have a positive impact on the communities that it serves. An independent report, which was the second of its kind, highlights the on-going role that the line plays in attracting people to live, work and visit after two years of operation.

58% of those surveyed and who had recently moved house referenced 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.

I’m very encouraged that people are making decisions based on the fact that the railway is here, whether that’s people choosing where to live or where to work. They’ve looked at the railway as a key factor in making these decisions and people view it as a real asset in their life choices.

This opens up a whole new corridor of opportunities – in both directions. At one end, you have Edinburgh - the UK's largest financial services centre after London and well on its way to becoming the data capital of Europe, and now has the significant Edinburgh & South-East Scotland City Regional Deal. 

Edinburgh’s economy is vibrant and predicted to grow over the next few years.  Connecting Edinburgh by rail with Midlothian and the Borders extends these economic opportunities further.

This highlights the core purpose of the railway – it’s not just about commuters travelling to and from one destination to another but also about generating real economic opportunities for the entire region. We’re seeing it coming through in tourist numbers but also in the number of companies that are opening and growing along the corridor.

While around 29% of Scottish working adults have a degree-level qualification, the figure rises to more than 40% along the railway corridor.

This rich seam of people and talent represents a huge opportunity for businesses that want to grow their presence along the corridor or move their operations there.

The Borders Railway Blueprint Leadership Group recognise the importance of developing a strong collaborative approach in delivering the economic development opportunities that lie ahead for the region. That’s why the group was established a year before the line opened to highlight that the large capital expenditure on the railway wasn’t just going to be a transport project – this was an investment that was going to create significant economic development opportunities for the whole area and indeed for the whole of Scotland.

The leadership group involves senior figures from the core organisations, including the Scottish Government, Transport Scotland, Midlothian Council, City of Edinburgh Council, Scottish Borders Council, ScotRail, VisitScotland and Scottish Enterprise.  We’re committed to working together to realise the potential the project presents and the partnership model we’ve adopted has been vitally important in driving forward the Blueprint objectives with everyone working to a shared plan and an agreed mandate.

The Borders Railway hasn’t just been turning heads in the south of Scotland either. Local authorities further afield are studying the partnership model to see if it can benefit other parts of our nation too. Effective regional partnerships are becoming increasingly important in delivering economic growth for Scotland. There are strong lessons to be learned from the way that the Borders Railway partnership is working. It’s a fantastic example of what can be achieved when everyone joins resources to deliver a shared vision for success.