Borders Railway Baseline Study - Final Report

4 Household Survey


4.1 This chapter summarises the key findings of the household survey, including the Travel Diary, ahead of the evaluation. For the purposes of this chapter, the results are broken down by Local Authority (Midlothian and Scottish Borders) and exclude all responses received from outside of these areas.  A more detailed breakdown of the results by tier is included in Appendix I.

Response Rate

4.2 Overall, a total of 3,641 responses were received to the household survey, 534 (14.7%) from the telephone interviews and 3,107 (85.3%) from the online version of the survey.  However, it is important to note that not all of the survey responses were complete and as a result some questions have a smaller sample size.   The majority of responses were collected before the opening of the railway (6th of September 2015) with just 100 responses (2.7%) received post opening.

Geographical Distribution of Responses

4.3 Table 4.1 and Figure 4.1 below show the geographical distribution of surveyed households for those households where the postcode provided by the respondent was valid and could be matched to a location.  Those responses which did not provide a valid postcode could not be mapped and have therefore been classified as ‘missing’ in the table below.  The geographies outside the tiers defined in Chapter 3 have been grouped into four distinct regions: Other Midlothian, Other Scottish Borders, Edinburgh City and Other UK

Table 4.1: Geographical distribution of surveyed households (Household survey)
Region Frequency % (of total responses) % (excluding missing)
Midlothian_Tier1 399 11.0 13.2
Midlothian_Tier2 653 17.9 21.6
Midlothian_Tier3 440 12.1 14.5
Other Midlothian 50 1.4 1.7
Scottish Borders_Tier1 166 4.6 5.5
Scottish Borders_Tier2 445 12.2 14.7
Scottish Borders_Tier3 521 14.3 17.2
Other Borders 203 5.6 6.7
Edinburgh City 101 2.8 3.3
Other UK 47 1.3 1.6
Total (without missing) 3,025 83.1 100.0
Missing 616 16.9
Total 3,641 100.0
Figure 4.1

Figure 4.1 Geographical distribution of surveyed households (Household survey)

4.4 Table 4.2 below compares the achieved sample to that of the target sample rates as discussed in Chapter 3.  As shown the achieved sample is broadly similar to the target sample, with a reasonable response rate across all tiers.  While the target sample rates were not achieved in all tiers, the samples were of a sufficient size to provide confidence in the results.  At the local authority level, these figures provide a confidence interval of plus or minus 2.4% and 2.8% for Midlothian and Scottish Borders respectively (at the 95% confidence level).

Table 4.2: Achieved Sample compared to Target Sample Rates
Tier 1
Tier 2 
Tier 3
Target Sample 2 (weighted) Midlothian 299 (7.4%) 816 (7.4%) 601 (7.4%) 1715
Scottish Borders 253 (7.4%) 428 (7.4%) 604 (7.4%) 1285
Achieved Sample Midlothian 399 (9.9%) 653 (6%) 440 (5.4%) 1492 
Scottish Borders 166 (4.9%) 445 (7.7%) 521(6.4%) 1132 

4.5 Table 4.3 show the breakdown of the number of responses from the telephone interviews (CATI survey) and the online version of the survey by area.  As above, only the responses that provided a valid postcode are included.  As shown in Figure 4.2, the geographic distribution is broadly similar, with no area dominating in either sample.

Table 4.3: Breakdown of responses by survey type and tier (Household survey)
Region Online Online % CATI CATI %
Midlothian_Tier1 365 14% 34 7%
Midlothian_Tier2 583 23% 70 15%
Midlothian_Tier3 374 15% 66 14%
Other Midlothian 23 1% 27 6%
Scottish Borders_Tier1 144 6% 22 5%
Scottish Borders_Tier2 388 15% 57 12%
Scottish Borders_Tier3 436 17% 85 18%
Other Borders 188 7% 15 4%
Edinburgh City 25 1% 76 16%
Other UK 31 1% 16 3%
Total 2,557 100% 468 100%

Figure 4.2: Breakdown of responses by survey type and tier (Household survey)

Respondent Characteristics

4.6 The survey collected information on the characteristics of respondents.  It found that 49.8% of respondents (n=2,155) are female, with a higher proportion of female respondents in the Scottish Borders than in Midlothian.

4.7 Overall, the two largest age categories are between 45 and 54 (23.4% of n=2,211) and 55 and 64 (21.9%) years of age. In terms of a breakdown by local authority, as with the population as a whole, the sample from the Scottish Borders is slightly older, with most (51% of 981) aged 55 and over while the majority of respondents from Midlothian (57% of 1,159) are aged between 25 and 54.  In comparison to the total population, the sample in each local authority contained a smaller proportion of people in the 1624 and 75+ categories and a larger proportion in the 3574 age categories (see Figure 4.3).  While the sample was far smaller, those responding to the survey after the opening of the rail line tended to be younger.

Figure 4.3

Figure 4.3: Age of Respondents (Household survey)

4.8 Approximately 42% of respondents (n=2,122) have bought their accommodation with mortgage or loan, 36% own the place outright and 16% pay rent, including rent paid by housing benefit.  Home ownership is higher amongst respondents from the Scottish Borders.

Table 4.4: Distribution of Respondents by Tenure (Household Survey)
Improvement Midlothian Scottish Borders Total
Buying with mortgage/loan 552 340 892
48.0% 35.0% 42.0%
Own it outright 355 417 772
30.9% 42.9% 36.4%
Part rent/part mortgage 12 9 21
1.0% .9% 1.0%
Rents (including rents paid by housing benefit) 169 164 333
14.7% 16.9% 15.7%
Living here rent free 21 20 41
1.8% 2.1% 1.9%
Not Applicable 41 22 63
3.6% 2.3% 3.0%

4.9 Figure 4.4 below shows the distribution of respondents by employment sector.  As shown a relatively high proportion of those who responded to this question from Midlothian came from the financial & insurance (12.3%, n=112) sector.  Overall, this sector accounts for just 1.1% of employee jobs in Midlothian, with the higher proportion in the sample likely to be a consequence of the high numbers working in this sector who commute to Edinburgh.  The largest proportion of respondents from the Scottish Borders who answered this question worked in public administration, education and health (41% of 700 respondents).  This is in keeping with the proportion of employee jobs in the public sector in the Scottish Borders.  

Figure 4.4: Distribution of respondents by employment sector (Household survey)

4.10 The survey results show that 15% of respondents (n=2,149) have a physical or mental health condition or illness lasting or expected to last 12 months or more.  The condition reduces the ability to carry out daytoday activities a lot or a little for approximately 68% of these people (n=325).

4.11 The top three categories in terms of household income were over £60,000 (15% of respondents n=2,054), those who earn between £20,001 and £30,000 (14%) and those who earn between £10,001 and £20,000 (13%).   Overall, respondents from Midlothian indicated that their household income was marginally higher than respondents from the Scottish Borders.

Figure 4.5

Figure 4.5: Household Income (Household survey)

Household Compositions

4.12 The average size of surveyed households (n=2,877) in both Midlothian and the Scottish Borders is 2.4 members i.e. 2 adults (16 or over) and 0.4 children / young people (<16).  The most common household types were the ‘two adults’ households with no children and the single person living alone households.

4.13 Of the total 5,069 adults that are members of the households surveyed, 60% are in employment (full time or part time), 27% are retired and the rest are either in education or unemployed.  These proportions are higher than that of the population as a whole and may reflect the fact rail users (and therefore by extension those most interested in the survey) are usually drawn from higher income groups.  Figure4.6 shows a marginally higher level of employment for households in Midlothian and a smaller proportion of retired adults.

Figure 4.6: Employment status by local authority (Household survey)

4.14 The survey collected information about the employment status of all members of surveyed households.  Table 4.5 below shows the composition of surveyed households in terms of their employment status or in other words the mean percentage of household members with a certain employment status by household size.  For example, on average, a ‘three adult’ household has 51.9% of its members or 1.5 members in full time employment and a ‘two adults’ household has 31.7% of its member or 0.6 members retired.

Table 4.5:  Mean percentage of household members with a certain employment status by household size
Household size (no of adults) Full time employment Part time employment Full or part time further education Full or part time higher education Permanently sick or disabled Not in employment/looking after home or family Unemployed Retired Other
1 40.7% 9.6% 0.3% 0.5% 3.6% 1.7% 3.5% 39.0% 1.2%
2 47.5% 11.9% 0.5% 0.4% 1.7% 3.4% 1.3% 31.7% 1.6%
3 51.9% 14.4% 7.1% 6.5% 2.6% 2.6% 2.2% 10.3% 2.3%
4 51.3% 11.6% 10.5% 10.2% 2.7% 3.8% 0.5% 6.5% 3.0%
5 53.3% 26.7% 13.3% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 6.7% 0.0%
Other 16.7% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 16.7% 66.7% 0.0% 0.0%

4.15 The household survey also collected information on car ownership and car dependency.  Overall, car ownership levels were relatively high, with just 9.2% (n=121) of surveyed households in the Borders and 10% (n=155) in Midlothian not having access to a car or van.  These figures are slightly higher than those recorded in the 2011 Census (20% and 25% respectively) and likely reflect the fact rail users (and therefore by extension those most interested in the survey) are usually drawn from higher income groups. 

4.16 The results also show a high level of car dependency amongst surveyed households i.e. approximately 48% (n=2,846) of respondents indicated a car is essential for their household’s everyday needs and 25% of respondents indicated 2 or more cars are essential for their household’s everyday needs.  The levels of car dependency broken down by local authority are presented in the figure below.

Figure 4.7

Figure 4.7: Car dependency by local authority (Household survey)

4.17 The survey asked respondents if they hold a National Entitlement Card which provides them with free bus travel.  Across the two local authorities, 64.9% (n=1,525) of respondents from Midlothian and 61.6% (n=1,321) of respondents from Scottish Borders said they do not own a National Entitlement Card.

Key Point: Close to 90% of the members of surveyed households are either in employment (full time or part time) or retired.  The levels of car ownership and car dependency are considerably high across both Midlothian and Scottish Borders.

About Your Neighbourhood

4.18 A significantly high proportion of respondents from both Midlothian and the Scottish Borders rated their neighbourhood (defined as the street they live in and the streets nearby (urban) or the local area (rural)) as very good or fairly good as shown in the figure below. 

Figure 4.8

Figure 4.8: Quality of neighbourhood as a place to live by local authority (Household survey)

4.19 The feeling of belonging to the neighbourhood was also found to be fairly strong amongst respondents as 30.3% felt ‘very strongly’ about it and 45.5% felt ‘fairly strongly’ (n=2,829). When comparing the two local authorities, there are a higher proportion of respondents from the Scottish Borders that felt ‘very strongly’ that they belong to their neighbourhood.

Figure 4.9

Figure 4.9: Neighbourhood Inclusion by Local Authority (Household survey)

Key Point: The majority of respondents from both Midlothian and the Scottish Borders think their neighbourhood is a good place to live in and feel strongly about belonging to it.

Awareness of the New Line

4.20 Respondents to the survey were asked if they were aware of the scheduled opening of the rail line prior to receiving the survey.  The majority of respondents who answered this question (95.5% of 2,876) were aware. A slightly higher level of awareness was experienced in the Scottish Borders where 98.1% (n=1,335) of respondents knew about the planned opening of the railway compared to 93.3% (n=1,541) in Midlothian.

Intention to use the Railway

4.21 When asked about their intention to use the Borders Railway in the first 12 months of operation, around 84% (n=2,826) of respondents anticipated they will use it.  This percentage was very much the same for respondents across the two local authorities. 

4.22 The Figure below shows the modes of transport that respondents expect to use to travel to the station.  Overall, car driver (53.7% of 2,353 respondents) and walking (52.3% of 2,353 respondents) are likely to be the most popular.  These percentages vary considerably across the two local authorities as shown in Figure4.10 below and can be mostly explained by the differences in proximity of respondents in each region to the Borders Railway stations.

Figure 4.10

Figure 4.10: Modes of transport to the station by local authority (Household survey)

Key Point: Over 80% of those surveyed intend to use the new service in the first 12 months.  The closer to the station the more likely people are to walk, with those more further away likely to drive.

Borders Railway and your life Choices

4.23 26.4% of 1,305 respondents from Scottish Borders and 29.4% of 1,509 respondents from Midlothian have changed their address in the past five years.  The planned opening of the Borders Railway has had a relatively significant impact on their decision to move as shown in Figure 4.11 below i.e. of those who have moved, around 15% from both local authorities have considered it a main factor or one of a number of important factors.

4.24 Moreover, 7% of the respondents who have lived at their current address for under 5 years (n=789) indicated they would not have moved to their current address had the Borders Railway not been planned.  This percentage is 7.6 for respondents from Scottish Borders and 6.5 for respondents from Midlothian.

Figure 4.11

Figure 4.11: Influence of Borders Railway on decision to change residence by local authority (Household Survey)

4.25 The survey found a much lower impact on changes in workplace or education location.  Only 1% (n=2,802) and 0.5% (n=2,793) of adult members of surveyed households indicated they changed their workplace or place of higher or further education as a result of the planned opening of the Borders Railway.  Most of them now work or study in Edinburgh City Centre, Edinburgh West and Galashiels.

4.26 Participants in the survey were also asked about their plans to change their residence in the next year.  A total of 2,782 respondents answered this question and approximately 8% indicated either their whole household or only some members of their household are planning to move.  This percentage is higher for respondents from Scottish Borders i.e. 9% compared to 6.5% for respondents from Midlothian.

4.27 The opening of the Borders Railway has influenced this decision to a certain extent, around 7% of those intending to change their residence (n=222) will move closer to a station while 4.5% will move further away from the line.

Key Point: Of those who moved house recently, the reopening of the Borders rail line played an important part in a number of people’s decision to locate to Midlothian and the Scottish Borders.

Your Household and Current Public Transport

4.28 The figure below shows the respondents’ level of satisfaction with current public transport services with respect to their household’s travel needs.  Overall, just over half of the respondents (n=2,767) are either very satisfied or satisfied with how the current public transport services meet their household’s travel needs.  The level of satisfaction is significantly higher in Midlothian where 64.6% of respondents are very satisfied or satisfied as opposed to only 35.2% in Scottish Borders.  

Figure 4.12

Figure 4.12: Satisfaction with current public transport services (Household survey)

4.29 The prevalent factors which influence the level of satisfaction are ‘availability of public transport services’ and ‘frequency’ (based on responses from 2,011 respondents).  These appear to be the main reasons for both satisfaction and dissatisfaction amongst respondents as outlined in Table 4.6.  For example, 83% of respondents that stated they were very satisfied with public services in their area mentioned availability of PT services as a factor that has an impact on their level of satisfaction.

Table 4.6: Factors which influence the level of satisfaction (Household survey)
Improvement Very Satisfied Satisfied Dissatisfied Very Dissatisfied
Availability of PT services 83% 73% 58% 74%
Frequency 80% 70% 58% 68%
Fares 42% 35% 26% 33%
Length of operating day 32% 24% 29% 38%
Overall journey time 29% 25% 58% 54%
Reliability 58% 40% 17% 26%

Percentages and totals are based on respondents (n=2,003)

4.30 The survey also found that improvements in public transport mainly related to frequency, overall journey time and availability could encourage a significant proportion of surveyed households (72.6% of 2,759) to use the services provided in their area.  The proportion is higher for Midlothian (76% of 1,477 respondents) than for Scottish Borders (69% of 1,282 respondents).

4.31 Table 4.7 includes the proportion of respondents from each local authority which mentioned that a selected improvement would make them use public transport more. For example, 26.7% of respondents from Midlothian said they would use public transport more if reliability was better, as opposed to 30.7% of respondents from Scottish Borders.

Table 4.7: Selected Improvements in Public Transport (Household Survey
Improvement Midlothian Scottish Borders Total
Frequency 485 440 925
45.8% 52.2% 49%
Overall journey time 533 491 1024
50.3% 58.2% 54%
Availability of PT services 325 370 695
30.7% 43.9% 37%
Fares 288 298 586
27.2% 35.3% 31%
Length of operating day 596 380 976
56.2% 45.1% 51%
Reliability 283 259 542
26.7% 30.7% 28%
Other 485 440 925
45.8% 52.2% 49%

Percentages and totals are based on respondents (n=1,903)

Key Point: Significantly more residents in the Midlothian local authority are satisfied with public transport services than residents in Scottish Borders. Of potential improvements in services, frequency, journey times and availability were cited as the key areas for improvement.

Your Personal Travel

Commuting to Work or Education

4.32 This section of the questionnaire was concerned with the personal journeys participants make commuting to and from work or education.  From a total of 2,736 respondents, 54.5% regularly commute to work.  Nearly 59% of these are Midlothian residents and the rest are Scottish Borders residents.  The main destinations for work for respondents commuting from Midlothian are Edinburgh City Centre (33.2%), Edinburgh West (12.9%) and Edinburgh South (11.5%).  The main work destinations for respondents commuting from Scottish Borders are Galashiels (18.8%), Melrose (12.8%) and Newtown St Boswells (10.7%).  Overall, 69.9% of respondents from Midlothian and 21.7% from the Scottish Borders stated that they commuted to Edinburgh.

4.33 The percentage of respondents (n=2,706) that regularly commute to further / higher education is 3% and just over 58% of these are Midlothian residents.  The main destinations for education for respondents commuting from Midlothian are Edinburgh City Centre (33.3%), Edinburgh East (13.7%) and Edinburgh South and West (each with 9.8%).  The main education destinations for respondents commuting from Scottish Borders are Edinburgh City Centre (23.1%), Galashiels (15.4%) and Edinburgh East (12.8%).

4.34 The figure below shows the mode share for respondents commuting to work overall and broken down by local authority.  The majority use the car to get to work either as a driver or a passenger.  21.5% of respondents from Midlothian travel to work by bus as opposed to only 6.5% of respondents from Scottish Borders.  Active travel is more popular amongst Scottish Borders respondents 6.4% walk or cycle to work.

4.35 The percentage of those using the car to commute to further / higher education (as a driver or passenger) is smaller at 50% overall while the percentage that use the bus is noticeably higher at 35.6%.


Figure 4.13:  Mode Share for Travel to Work (Household Survey)

4.36 Most of the people commuting to work and education (87.3% of 1,105 respondents and 73.9% of 46 respondents respectively) are able to park for free at their workplace or place of education.

4.37 The figure below shows the number of return trips from home to work or education per typical working week broken down by local authority.  Not surprisingly, most people travelling to work make 5 return trips in a typical working week while people travelling to education make less trips in a typical week i.e.  12% of respondents from Midlothian and 26% of respondents from Scottish Borders make only 1 trip and 35% and 24% respectively make between 2 and 4 trips.  

4.38 These return journeys typically involve walking or cycling for more than 30 minutes for 10% of people commuting to work (n=1,479) and approximately 17% of people travelling to education (n=89).


Figure 4.14: Percentage of Return Trips to Work or Education in a Typical Working Week (Household Survey)

For all other purposes

4.39 The figure below shows the number of return trips made for all other purposes to Edinburgh and other areas served by the Borders Railway in a typical month:

  • 52% of respondents (n=1376) make between 2 and 3 return trips per month for shopping purposes;
  • 51% of respondents make between 2 and 3 return trips per month for leisure purposes (cinema/theatre/eating out/nights out) or sport (participation and spectating);
  • 78% of respondents make no return trips per month for business purposes; and
  • 37% of respondents make between 2 and 3 return trips per month visiting friends and family.

Figure 4.15: Percentage of Return Journeys by Travel Purpose in a Typical Month (Household Survey)

4.40 It can be easily observed from the figure below that the car is the dominant mode of travel for other purposes as well across both Midlothian and Scottish Borders.  A considerably high percentage of people are using the bus across all travel purposes.

Figure 4.16

Figure 4.16: Mode Share for all Other Purposes (Household survey)

Key Point: Many people in Midlothian and the Scottish Borders travel to Edinburgh for Work and nonwork purposes on a regular basis.  The main mode used for these journeys is the car.

Travel Diary

Gender and age of respondents

4.41 62% of respondents from Midlothian and Scottish Borders (n=2,877) reported that they had the travelled the previous day. Around 56% of these were from Midlothian and the rest from Scottish Borders. There was a higher percentage of male respondents from Midlothian travelling than from Scottish Borders.

Figure 4.17

Figure 4.17: Gender of respondents reporting travel (Travel Diary)

4.42 The figure below shows the breakdown by age and local authority of respondents that filled in the travel diary. Overall, respondents aged 75 and over and 16 to 24 were less likely than other age groups to have travelled the previous day whilst the respondents aged between 45 and 54 were the most likely to have travelled.


Figure 4.18: Age bands of respondents reporting travel (Travel Diary)

Total number of single journeys recorded

4.43 The total number of single journeys reported was 3,793, of which 59% were undertaken by respondents from Midlothian. The most popular travel origins and destination for respondents from Midlothian were Dalkeith, Bonnyrigg, Edinburgh City Centre and Gorebridge whilst for respondents from Borders the most popular origins and destinations were Galashiels, Melrose and Selkirk.

How are people travelling?

4.44 78% of all journeys (n=3,793) were by car, either as a passenger or as a driver and 17% were by public transport and active travel, which includes walking, cycling and public transport. The breakdown by local authorities shows that a lower percentage of journeys from Midlothian were by car (74% as opposed to 86% in Scottish Borders) and a significantly higher percentage was by bus (17% as opposed to 7% in Scottish Borders).


Figure 4.19: Mode of journey (Travel Diary)

Why are people travelling?

4.45 Almost a quarter of all journeys (n=2,818) were for commuting purposes; 17% were for shopping and 16% were for returning home. There were no significant differences between the two local authorities in terms of the reasons for travel as can be observed from the figure below.

Figure 4.20

Figure 4.20: Reasons for travel (Travel Diary)

When are people travelling?

Day of the week

4.46 The majority of journeys were made in the first three working days while Saturdays and Sundays account for the lowest proportion of all journeys made. The highest percentage of journeys was made on Wednesday in Midlothian and on Tuesday in Scottish Borders.


Figure 4.21: Journeys by day of travel (Travel Diary)

Duration of travel

4.47 Approximately 80% of the journeys made are under one hour while 8% are over three hours as shown in the table below.

Table 4.8: Journey duration (Travel Diary)
Duration Band Number of journeys % of Total journeys
Less than 5 minutes 48 1%
5 to 10 minutes 632 17%
11 to 20 minutes 882 23%
21 to 30 minutes 686 18%
31 to 60 minutes 847 22%
61 to 120 minutes 361 10%
121 to 179 minutes 45 1%
180 minutes and over 292 8%
Total 3793 100%