Borders Railway on track for success
A new report published today [Thursday 15 June] has found that the Borders Railway is attracting new workers, homeowners and tourists to communities served by the line, including Midlothian.
The line is a major factor in decisions to relocate
The independent study highlights that the service has been a major factor in decisions to relocate to areas served by the line, with 50% of users who had moved house and over 80% of those who changed jobs stated that the railway had been a factor in their decision. There was also a tourism benefit, with 23% of visitors stating that they would not have made the trip without the line.
Cllr Russell Imrie welcomed the findings
Midlothian Council’s cabinet member for economic development, Councillor Russell Imrie said: “Midlothian has the fastest growing population of any region, predicted to go up by 26% by 2039, according to the Registers of Scotland. We’re delighted, as this report confirms, people are making life-changing decision to move or change jobs, at least partly based on the excellent transport links afforded by the opening of the line.
“We’re committed to maximising the opportunities afforded by the Borders Railway. Indeed, we have a number of initiatives underway to help breathe new life into our communities and economy.
Projects are underway to capitalise on the railway
“Work has started on two masterplans for Newtongrange and also Stobhill and the Lady Victoria Centre, both served by the railway.
“Applications are invited from local businesses from the Borders Railway Investment Fund while the Track2Train project, to turn a disused building at Newtongrange railway station into a community hub is progressing well.
“With work ongoing to progress Business Improvement District bids and enhance Gorebridge, including the station house, we’re certainly off to a great start less than two years after the Borders Railway opening.”
Passenger numbers are lower than predicted at Midlothian stations
While the independent study finds more passengers than predicted are using the Borders Railway in the Borders, numbers are lower than predicted in Midlothian. In Newtongrange, passenger figures were roughly as predicted, while in Eskbank and Gorebridge, figures were around 50% lower than predicted. User numbers were significantly lower than predicted at Shawfair. (Actual figures below)
The results were discussed today at a special summit
The results were discussed at the Scottish Transport Summit in Glasgow today during a session on the role of transport in boosting the economy.
Further work will be done to analyse passenger figures
Cllr Imrie added: “I’m sure the summit would be looking further at why passenger numbers in Midlothian are not as forecast.
“Shawfair will be the biggest urban expansion in Scotland in modern times but there are just a small number of homes built at the moment so the number of passengers will certainly increase over time. The convenience and affordability of local bus services has been cited as factors among people not currently using the railway line too.”
The report was to evaluate the line's first year
The report, commissioned by Transport Scotland and the Borders Railway Blueprint Group, was carried out by Peter Brett Associates with the aim of evaluating the project’s success a year on from its reopening.
It also examined the impact the line has had on visitor numbers, passenger views of service quality and real and perceived barriers to use for those not using the service.
More on passenger numbers at each of the stations
Predicted and actual passenger numbers for each of the 4 Midlothian stations at the end of the first year were:
- Newtongrange – actual is 96,735 compared with the predicted 105,836
- Gorebridge – actual is 74,891 compared with the predicted 180,038
- Eskbank – actual is 133,121 compared with the predicted 261,050
- Shawfair – actual is 16,853 compared with the predicted 123,720