4 Investment Objectives

Borders Railway Year 2 - Evaluation - Survey of users and non-users - February 2018

4 Investment Objectives

Overview

The primary purpose of this research was to build upon the results of the Stage 1 Evaluation (completed in November 2016) and further develop understanding of the extent to which the Borders Railway is on track to meet its Investment Objectives. This Chapter provides a summary of the findings of the research from this perspective. To frame the argument, the Chapter is structured around a series of key questions aimed at informing each of the FBC Investment Objectives as outlined in Table 4.1 below.

Table 4.1: Borders Railway Investment Objectives and Key Questions
Investment Objective Key Questions
Promote accessibility to and from the Scottish Borders and Midlothian to Edinburgh (including the airport) and the central belt
  • Where are people travelling to / from on the Borders Railway?
  • Where do users of the Borders Railway live?
  • What are people using the Borders Railway for?
  • How frequently are people making trips using the Borders Railway?
  • Are people making journeys / taking up opportunities which they did not previously make / do?
Foster social inclusion by improving services for those without access to a car
  • What proportion of users of the Borders Railway do not have access to a car?
  • To what extent has there been changes to the local bus network since the re-opening of the line which may have reduced access for those without a car?
  • To what extent are the changes in bus service provision attributable to the re-opening of the line?
  • What is the impact in terms of social exclusion of changes in bus service provision?
Prevent decline in the Borders population by securing ready access to Edinburgh’s labour (jobs) market
  • To what extent is the Borders Railway used for commuting trips to and from Edinburgh and the Central Belt?
  • Have people made changes to their home location as a result of the re-opening of the line?
  • Have people made changes to their employment as a result of the re-opening of the line?
Create modal shift from the car to public transport
  • By which mode did users previously make the journey they are making prior to the re-opening of the line?
  • How do users get to and from the station?
  • Has there been any change in car ownership since the re-opening of the line?

Investment Objective 1: Promote accessibility to and from the Scottish Borders and Midlothian to Edinburgh and the Central Belt

Where are people travelling to / from on the Borders Railway?

Rail industry ‘LENNON’ data were provided by ScotRail and analysed for the Year 2 period. As noted previously, there has been a 9.5% increase in overall passenger numbers from Year 1. This data is based on ticket sales which allows us to identify the station at which the tickets are sold and hence the volumes of travel originating from, and with destinations at each station.

The figures below show ticket sales by origin and destination at each of the new Borders Railway station for Years 1 and 2 respectively.

Figure 4.1: Station origins ticket sales, Years 1 and 2

Figure 4.1: Station origins ticket sales, Years 1 and 2

Figure 4.2: Station destinations ticket sales, Years 1 and 2

Figure 4.2: Station destinations ticket sales, Years 1 and 2

It can therefore be seen that all of the new stations generate more outbound travel than inbound travel. Eskbank however is also a significant generator of inbound travel and this may be associated with its proximity to Edinburgh College’s Midlothian Campus.

In terms of trends, the reductions at Galashiels and Tweedbank as destinations may be a reflection of a the ‘novelty’ impact of the new line wearing off. Otherwise all stations have seen an increase in inbound and outbound travel since Year 1.

The figure below shows the breakdown of travel from Borders Railway stations by geography.

Figure 4.3: Travel to and from Borders Railway stations, Years 1 and 2

Figure 4.3: Travel to and from Borders Railway stations, Years 1 and 2

The largest market segment is therefore travel from Borders Railways stations to destinations beyond Shawfair. Around 2/3 of trips originating in the Borders were made to Edinburgh stations, and around 45% of Borders Railway trips originating at other stations started in Edinburgh. There is a comparatively small amount of travel between Borders Railway stations.

Key Point:
In Year 2, overall travel on the line has increased by 9.5%. As would be expected trips originating from the new stations outnumber trips destined for the new stations by a ratio of nearly 2:1. The Edinburgh area stations account for around 2/3 of trips from the Borders Railway stations. Eskbank is a significant attractor of trips and the novelty of the new line may be wearing off with an absolute reduction in trips to Tweedbank in Year 2.

Where do users of the Borders Railway live?

Table 4.2 provides a breakdown of the responses to the User Survey by home location of the respondent along with the estimated number of single annual trips associated with the responses. The geographic distribution of those respondents based in Great Britain is also shown graphically in Figure 4.4.

Overall, 56% (n=461) of respondents who provided their home location lived in the Scottish Borders compared to 10% (n=84) from Edinburgh, 6% (n=47) from Midlothian and 6% (n=47) from elsewhere in Scotland. As shown in the table below, these figures are comparable with those from the Year 1 Survey. However, the Year 2 sample contains a higher proportion of users from Other Scotland, Other UK and Overseas as would be expected given that the survey was undertaken during the summer peak.

In terms of annual single trips, it is estimated that 60% are made by those from the Scottish Borders with 8% from Edinburgh and 7% from Midlothian. In total, 16% (n=132) of respondents did not provide their home location, accounting for around 23% of annual trips in Year 2.

Table 4.2: Number and Percentage of Responses and Journeys by Home Location of Respondent
Year 2 Survey Year 1 Survey
Location Number of Responses Number of Single Journeys Percentage of Responses Percentage of Journeys Percentage of Responses
Percentage of Journeys
Scottish Borders 461 59,586 55.9% 59.6% 60.2% 59.2%
Midlothian 47 6,684 5.7% 6.7% 7.6% 11.8%
Edinburgh 84 7,936 10.2% 7.9% 7.3% 8.7%
Other Scotland 47 2,216 5.7% 2.2% 9.3% 5.5%
Other UK 41 188 5.0% 0.2% 4.1% 0.9%
Overseas 13 376 1.6% 0.4% 2.1% 1.1%
Home location not provided 132 23,064 16.0% 23.1% 9.5% 12.8%
Total 825 100,050

Figure 4.4: Home location of respondents to the User Survey (GB only)

Figure 4.4: Home location of respondents to the User Survey (GB only)

Figure 4.5 and Figure 4.6 below show the home location of the respondents who started their journey at each of the stations in the Scottish Borders and Midlothian respectively. As shown, the catchment area for Tweedbank is significantly larger than that of the Midlothian stations with Tweedbank station users travelling from as far as Coldstream, Hawick and Langholm. In contrast, the majority of users for each of the other stations on the line are concentrated within a much smaller, local area. The relatively large size of the catchment area for Tweedbank may in part account for the higher than predicted patronage at this station.

Figure 4.5: Catchment area from Midlothian stations

Figure 4.5: Catchment area from Midlothian stations

Figure 4.6: Catchment area for the Scottish Borders stations

Figure 4.6: Catchment area for the Scottish Borders stations

Key Point:
Overall, 56% of the users captured in the survey lived in the Scottish Borders compared to 6% from Midlothian and 10% from Edinburgh. In comparison to the Year 1 Survey, a larger proportion of users were drawn from locations elsewhere in Scotland, the UK and overseas, suggesting (as was expected given the timing of the fieldwork) that the Year 2 Survey contains a higher proportion of tourist users.

The catchment area for Tweedbank Station covers a considerably larger area than that of the other stations, where the catchment is much more local. People are travelling further to reach Tweedbank from e.g. Selkirk, Kelso, Hawick and Newton St Boswells. As well as being the end of the line, this is a result of the availability of free parking at the site (and the absence of free parking at Galashiels). This wide catchment area may also explain the higher than predicted passenger numbers at this location.

What are people using the Borders Railway for?

Figure 4.7 below shows the purpose of respondents’ current trip and the same data weighted by the frequency with which respondents make this trip. The majority of respondents are leisure users, with 22% of respondents stating that they were making leisure trips. This compares to 19.9% of users who said they were making commuting trips. However, when the responses are weighted by trip frequency, commuting is the most common journey purpose accounting for 65% of estimated annual single trips (54% commuting to work and 11% commuting to education) compared to 32% leisure trips[2] and 4% business trips.

Table 4.3 below provides a breakdown of the percentage of trips by commuting, leisure and business purposes for the Year 1 and Year 2 Survey samples as well as the equivalent figures at the Scotland level. The latter are taken from the National Rail Travel Survey, a survey of passenger trips on the rail network undertaken in 2004/05. While the data from this is somewhat dated, the survey provides the most comprehensive assessment of journey purpose at the national level.

Table 4.3: Proportion of Journeys by Journey Purpose
Journey Purpose Year 1 Year 2 Scotland Rail Network[3]
Commuter 65% 65% 59
Business 5% 4% 11
Leisure 29% 32% 30

As shown in the table, the proportion of commuter trips recorded in the sample is slightly higher than the Scottish figures. The high levels of commuting on the service suggests that the line has improved access to employment opportunities for residents of the Scottish Borders and Midlothian which in turn could help to attract and retain people in these areas.

The breakdown by purpose is broadly comparable to that of the Year 1 sample although the Year 2 sample has:

  • A higher proportion of commuting trips (54% compared to 45% of annual single trips)
  • A smaller proportion of education trips (11% compared to 20% of annual single journeys)
  • A slightly higher proportion of leisure trips[4] (21% compared to 16% of annual single trips)

These differences are likely to be a result of the different time-period over which the Year 2 Survey was undertaken, with a number of the survey days falling outside of the school term time and/or during the Edinburgh Festival.

Figure 4.7: Trip purpose by percentage of responses and percentage of single trips

Figure 4.7: Trip purpose by percentage of responses and percentage of single trips

Key Point:
Commuting is the most common journey purpose when trip frequency is considered, accounting for 54% of annual single journeys. In comparison to the Year 1 Survey, there is a higher proportion of commuting and leisure trips and a smaller proportion of educational trips.

How frequently are people making trips using the Borders Railway?

Figure 4.8 shows the frequency with which respondents indicated they make their current trip. Overall, the largest proportion of respondents said that they were relatively infrequent users of the Borders Railway, with the majority (24%, n=191) indicating that they make the journey less than once a month. As shown below, this proportion increases to 29% (n=102) when only those travelling on the weekend were considered. The results are broadly comparable with those of the Year 1 study.

Figure 4.8: Frequency of trip by weekday / weekend

Figure 4.8: Frequency of trip by weekday / weekend

Key Point:
A large proportion of respondents to the user survey were relatively infrequent users, with the majority (24%) indicating that they make the journey less than once a month.

Are people making journeys / taking up opportunities which they did not previously make / do?

Overall, 31% (n=250) of respondents to the User Survey said that they did not previously make their current trip prior to the re-opening of the railway. The frequency with which each respondent indicated that they made their trip was used to calculate an estimated annual trip figure for each respondent using the conversion factors included in Appendix B. Using this approach, it is estimated that 35,900 annual single trips, over a third (35%) of the total number of journeys recorded via the sample would not have been undertaken had the Borders Railway not re-opened.

Respondents to the User Survey were also asked how much they agreed or disagreed with a series of statements about what the Borders Railway had enabled them to do. Figure 4.9 below shows the net agreement (the proportion of respondents who agree with the statement minus the proportion of respondents who disagree, excluding those who answered ‘Don’t Know’) with a range of statements for the sample as a whole and for respondents from Midlothian and the Scottish Borders.

Figure 4.9: The impact of the Borders Railway (net agreement)

Figure 4.9: The impact of the Borders Railway (net agreement)

Generally, the results suggest that the re-opening of the line has led to people making journeys which they previously could not make or do, with the most popular response (in terms of accessing new activities) being ‘the Borders Railway has enabled me to access leisure opportunities which I couldn’t previously access’ for which the net agreement was 38%. This was also the most popular response (in terms of new activities) in the Year 1 Survey. However, net agreement in Year 1 was lower at just 29% reflecting the higher proportion of leisure users in the Year 2 sample.

Additionally, as well as encouraging new trips, the data indicates that the re-opening of the railway has also been successful in encouraging modal shift from the private car to rail. For example, there was a 75% net agreement with the statement ‘the Borders Railway has enabled me to access leisure opportunities without using the car / using the car for only part of my journey’ and a 56% net agreement for the statement ‘the Borders Railway has enabled me to visit friends and family without using the car / using the car for only part of my journey’. The net agreement for both the above were higher in the Year 2 Survey, likely as a result of the higher number of leisure users captured via the sample. Similarly, there was a higher net agreement that the railway had enabled access to Edinburgh Airport in Year 2 compared to Year 1 (18% compared to 8%). It is noted that the sample size, particularly for Midlothian, is very small which could impact the reliability of the results. This could be a reason for a significantly larger proportion of Midlothian residents agreeing with the statement ‘the Borders Railway has enabled me to access my current place of employment without using the car / using the car for only part of my journey’ compared to those in Edinburgh and the Scottish Borders.

Key Point:
The data suggests that the railway is enabling people to make new journeys and take up new opportunities, particularly leisure opportunities, which they could not previously access, with approximately 35,900 (35%) of the estimated annual single trips recorded via the sample defined as ‘new trips’.

There was also strong agreement amongst respondents that the railway has enabled them to access leisure opportunities and visit family and friends without using the car / only using the car for a portion of the journey. There was also net agreement that the line had enabled access to Edinburgh Airport.

Investment Objective 1 Summary

Promote accessibility to and from the Scottish Borders and Midlothian to Edinburgh (including the airport) and the central belt

Overall, the results of the research suggest that the Borders Railway is achieving Investment Objective 1. There are large volumes of users using the service to travel between the Scottish Borders / Midlothian and Edinburgh, with total patronage on the line increasing by 9.5% since Year 1. As may be expected, the majority of patronage is towards Edinburgh with Tweedbank the most frequent origin and Edinburgh Waverley the most frequent destination. Since Year 1, inbound and outbound travel at all the Midlothian stations has increased while the number of people travelling to Galashiels and Tweedbank has fallen slightly, with the latter likely a reflection of the novelty impact of the line wearing off. While commuting is the most common journey purpose, there are also a significant number of leisure and tourist users and evidence that the line has improved access to opportunities and encouraged people to make additional / new trips which they previously did not make, with approximately 35,900 of the estimated annual single trips recorded via the Year 2 sample falling into this category.

Investment Objective 2: Foster social inclusion by improving services for those without access to a car

What proportion of users of the Borders Railway do not have access to a car?

In total, 15% (n=101) of respondents to the question stated that their household did not own or have access to a car. However, this figure fell to 13% (n=65) amongst those from Midlothian, the Scottish Borders and Edinburgh and to 9% (n=39) for residents of Midlothian and the Scottish Borders. As would be expected, car ownership was lower amongst those from Edinburgh with 38% (n=26) of Edinburgh residents stating that they did not have access to a vehicle compared to 9.1% (n=38) of Scottish Borders residents[5]. The proportion without access to a vehicle recorded in the survey is lower than the Census 2011 data for Midlothian, the Scottish Borders and Edinburgh (25%, 21% and 40% respectively). However, rail users are generally drawn from higher income groups and therefore figures below this rate are not unusual.

Key Point:
The re-opening of the Borders Railway has provided those without a car the means to access destinations along the corridor more quickly. The data suggests that 13% of users residing in Midlothian, the Scottish Borders and Edinburgh did not own or have access to a vehicle. This is relatively low compared to the results for the total population of Midlothian, Scottish Borders and Edinburgh as recorded in the 2011 Census but is likely down to the fact that rail users are usually drawn from higher income groups.

To what extent has there been changes in the local bus network since the re-opening of the line which may have reduced access for those without a car?

As discussed above, as part of the Year 1 Study a public transport frequency analysis was conducted using TRACC accessibility software in order to examine the impact of the line on bus service frequency.

A bus frequency analysis calculates a frequency value (number of services per hour) for all bus services stopping at each stop over the period for which the calculation is undertaken. During the Year 1 Study, two calculations were completed, one using the public transport network from July 2015 (representing the pre-railway scenario) and the second using the public transport network from October 2016 (representing the post railway scenario).

To identify any further changes since the Year 1 Study, as part of this Year 2 Study, a third calculation was completed using the public transport network from April 2017. Figure 4.10 and Figure 4.11 below show the change in bus service frequency between July 2015 and April 2017 for each stop over the AM period (0700 – 0930). This shows that there has been a decline in a number of services during the 2015 – 2017 period.

Figure 4.10: Change in bus stop frequency 2015 - 2017 (Midlothian)

Figure 4.10: Change in bus stop frequency 2015 - 2017 (Midlothian)

Figure 4.11: Change in bus stop frequency 2015 - 2017 (Scottish Borders)

Figure 4.11: Change in bus stop frequency 2015 - 2017 (Scottish Borders)

The key changes can be summarised as follows:

In Midlothian:

  • The frequency of Service 49 (Portobello - Edinburgh - Dalkeith - Rosewell) was reduced to a 30-minute service in October 2015
  • The frequency of Service 29 (Silverknowles – Gorebridge) was increased from a 30-minute to a 20-minute service on Saturdays and an additional morning peak service was added.
  • The frequency of Service 33 (Baberton – Royal Infirmary - Sheriffhall) was reduced from a 15-minute to a 20-minute service in April 2017

In the Scottish Borders:

  • The frequency of Service X95 (Galashiels – Edinburgh) was reduced from a 30-minute to an hourly service in August 2016. This reduction is likely to have led to a slight reduction in public transport access for areas on the A7 which are not directly served by the Borders Railway, including for example, Herriot and Fountainhall
  • A number of reductions in service frequency at bus stops in Galashiels and Tweedbank which are a result of a number of changes introduced by Frist Group (in August 2016) including the withdrawal of several services linking Galashiels to surrounding towns including Service 61 to Oxton; service 67 to St Boswells; service 68 to Howdenburn, the hourly service 73 to Bannerfield, and services 8 and 9 to Melrose.
  • The introduction of the Borders Buses Sightseeing Service in May 2017. The service runs every Saturday and Sunday between May and September and connects Galashiels to Abbotsford House, Tweedbank, Melrose, St Boswells, Dryburgh Abbey, Wallace Statue and Scotts View.

Key Point:
There have been a number of changes in bus service provision since the re-opening of the Borders Railway. These include a reduction in service frequency on several routes, including Services 49 and 33 in Midlothian and the X95 in the Scottish Borders, and the withdrawal of several services linking Galashiels to surrounding towns. Service 29 in Midlothian has seen an increase in service frequency and in the Scottish Borders, Borders Buses have recently introduced the Sightseeing Service which runs on weekends during the summer period.

To what extent are the changes in bus service provision a result of the re-opening of the line?

As discussed above, in order to better understand the rationale behind some of the above changes in the bus network, a series of consultations were held with bus operators in the Scottish Borders and Midlothian as well as the Scottish Borders and Midlothian Councils.

In Midlothian, the key bus operator is Lothian Buses. Overall, there are three Lothian Bus services which operate within the Borders Railway corridor, namely: Service 3 (Clovenstone – Dalkeith Campus or Mayfield), Service 29 (Silverknowes – Gorebridge); and Service 33 (Baberton – Royal Infirmary - Sheriffhall). Service 29 which, as discussed above, has seen an increase in service frequency, is the faster and more direct route with Service 3 and 33 more local in nature. In general, the comments received from both Midlothian Council and Lothian Buses suggest that the Borders Railway has had a limited impact on bus patronage in Midlothian. It was noted that while the rail service provides a very good option for those living near to the station, for many Midlothian residents the bus still provides the quickest journey times to Edinburgh. This is because of both the higher frequency of bus services and the greater network coverage in terms of bus stops compared to rail stations. In general, it is quicker for residents to travel by bus all the way to Edinburgh than travel into the station and then onward by rail. In addition, the availability of the Lothian Buses £1.60 flat fare to and from Edinburgh (making the bus far cheaper than the equivalent train fare of £5.40) as well as the ability to use the National Entitlement Card for free bus travel further encourages bus use. It was noted that feeder bus services to the rail stations in Midlothian are not provided as they would not be viable as the journey time saving would be minimal. In addition, the buses are more frequent than the rail services and therefore integration would generally be poor, with limited opportunity to change service timings because of the need to integrate with Edinburgh Bus Services.

In the Scottish Borders, First Group was the key operator. However, the company announced in March 2017, that it would be discontinuing its operations in the county with West Coast Motors (now trading as ‘Borders Buses’) taking over the operation of the First Borders network. First cited the loss of passengers and revenue on the X95 Service as a result of the new rail service as a key reason for both their decision to reduce the X95 between Galashiels and Edinburgh to an hourly service and their subsequent decision to cease operations in the Scottish Borders. The firm saw a significant decline in both patronage and revenue on the X95 service following the re-opening of the Borders Railway with a 13% reduction in passenger numbers and a commercial revenue reduction of 35% comparing the period January to August 2016 to the previous year. The greater fall in revenue was a result of passengers continuing to use the service but only to access the rail station.

For example, prior to the re-opening of the railway, bus passengers travelling from Hawick to Edinburgh would travel by bus for the whole journey. However, following the re-opening of the line, First found that a significant proportion elected to get off the bus at Galashiels and travel onwards from there by train. While such users still counted in the passenger numbers, the revenue generated from them was significantly lower due to the shorter journey. The fall in passengers and revenue applied to both standard tickets and concessionary fares, however, the latter fell by a lower percentage, as a larger proportion of those entitled to free bus travel continued to use the service rather than switch to rail. According to First the key determinant of why people switched to rail was journey time. In contrast to Midlothian, where taking the bus to the rail station and then travelling on by train often results in a longer journey time, in the Scottish Borders, travelling by rail, even where a bus service to the rail station is required, is, for many, more competitive in terms of journey time. As a result of the declines, First reduced the X95 to a 30-minute service between Galashiels and Edinburgh. However, the reduction in operating costs did not compensate for the loss of revenue, with the result that the company eventually decided to discontinue their operations within the Scottish Borders. In terms of the introduction of feeder services, First noted that this had been discussed with Scottish Borders Council prior to the re-opening of the line. However, the council felt that the bus network should initially stay as it was when the line re-opened until the impact on travel patterns was clear.

Since taking over operation of the Scottish Borders network Borders Buses has not made any changes to the timetables or routes of services previously operated by First. However, the company has introduced a brand new fleet which has improved reliability. In addition, the company introduced the new Sightseeing service in Summer 2017as discussed above. This service has been well-received and Borders Buses hopes to run the service again in 2018 with the addition of integrated ticketing sold at Edinburgh Waverley.

In terms of future plans, Borders Buses is working with the Scottish Borders Council to revise aspects of the network and improve connectivity in the area, looking at both commercial and subsidised services. The company is looking to integrate services across the network with train services running from Tweedbank and Galashiels and are also considering introducing coaches, as opposed to town buses, to improve comfort and quality for longer journeys.

Key Point:
In general, the comments received from both Midlothian Council and Lothian Buses suggest that the Borders Railway has had a limited impact on bus patronage in Midlothian. This was felt to be a result of a combination of factors, including the higher frequency of bus services compared to rail; the greater network coverage in terms of bus stops as opposed to rail stations; the availability of the Lothian Buses £1.60 flat fare; and the ability to use the National Entitlement Card for free bus travel.

In the Scottish Borders, the re-opening of the railway led to a significant reduction in both passengers and revenue on the X95 service. This route provided a long-distance link between Galashiels and Edinburgh and was in direct competition with the rail line. As a result of the fall in patronage and revenue on this service, First Group decided to discontinue their operations in the Scottish Borders with Borders Buses taking over the operation in March 2017. Since taking over, Borders Buses has maintained the routes and timetables previously operated by First. The company has also made significant investments in the vehicle fleet and introduced a new Summer sightseeing service. In the future, Borders Buses has plans to further develop services and is exploring the potential of better integrating bus and train services and the potential use of coaches on some routes.

What is the impact in terms of social exclusion of changes in bus service provision?

A series of questions were included in the Non-User Survey about respondents’ use of bus services in the Scottish Borders and Midlothian and the degree to which they had noticed any change in provision. Overall, 13% (n=22) of respondents who travel by bus stated that they had noticed a change in bus service provision. Figure 4.12 shows the extent to which respondents felt different aspects of bus service provision had improved or deteriorated since the re-opening of the railway. As shown, bus service frequency was identified by over half of respondents as having deteriorated. It should be noted however, that the sample size for this question is relatively small (n=22) which may influence the accuracy of the results.

Figure 4.12: Changes in Bus Provision (Responses from Non-User Survey)

Figure 4.12: Changes in Bus Provision (Responses from Non-User Survey)

Respondents answering the above question were also asked about the impact of the above changes in bus service provision. Figure 4.13 shows the net agreement (proportion of respondents who agree with the statement minus the proportion of respondents who disagree) with a number of statements. While, as discussed above, the sample size is small (n=22), the results do suggest that for, at least a subset of the population, the changes have resulted in a decline in access, with the result that some people are now travelling less overall and/or traveling more by car.

Figure 4.13: The Impact of Changes in Bus Service Provision (Respondents to Non-User Survey)

Figure 4.13: The Impact of Changes in Bus Service Provision (Respondents to Non-User Survey)

Key Point:
A series of questions were included in the Non-User Survey about respondents’ use of bus services in the Scottish Borders and Midlothian and the degree to which they had noticed any change in provision. While the overall sample size for these questions is small (n=22) and it is therefore difficult to determine the overall extent of the issue, the responses do suggest that some residents of the Scottish Borders and Midlothian have seen a decline in bus service frequency since the re-opening of the railway which has resulted in them travelling more by car and/or making fewer trips overall.

Investment Objective 2 Summary

Foster social inclusion by improving services for those without access to a car

Overall, the results of the research suggest that the Borders Railway is largely achieving Investment Objective 2. The re-opening of the Borders Railway has provided those without a car the means to access the stations along the corridor more quickly and there was strong agreement amongst respondents to the user survey that the railway has enabled them to access opportunities without using the car / only using the car for a portion of the journey. However, while the re-opening of the railway has resulted in improvements in access between the stations, it has also resulted in changes in bus service provision within the study area, most notably the reduction of the X95 service to an hourly service in May 2016. This change is likely to have led to a slight reduction in public transport access for areas on the A7 served by this route which are not directly served by the Borders Railway, including for example, Herriot and Fountainhall. Feedback from the consultations suggests that the impact on bus services generally has been more keenly felt within the Scottish Borders with the decline in both patronage and revenue on the XA95 ultimately resulting in First discontinuing their operations within the county in 2016. However, since taking over from First, Borders Buses has introduced no further changes to bus service provision and has made significant investments in the network. The impact of the railway on public transport and the opportunities the line provides for those without access to a car will continue to be monitored.

Investment Objective 3: Prevent decline in the Borders population by securing ready access to Edinburgh’s labour (jobs) market

To what extent is the Borders Railway used for commuting trips to / from Edinburgh and the Central Belt?

As discussed above, commuting accounted for the largest proportion of journeys on the Borders Railway, accounting for 54% of the annual single trips captured by the sample. Of these 58% (n=108) start or end at Edinburgh Waverley while a further 15% (n=21) start or end at stations beyond the Borders Railway such as Haymarket and South Gyle. The proportion of trips starting or ending at Edinburgh in the Year 2 Survey is lower than that recorded in the Year 1 Survey (70%, n=129). This is consistent with the discussion above which showed that a higher proportion of the year 2 sample come from elsewhere in Scotland.

Key Point:
Commuting is the most common journey purpose when travelling on the Borders Railway, accounting for 54% of annual single trips. The majority (58%) of commuters start or end their journey at Edinburgh Waverley. This is lower than that recorded in the Year 1 survey (70%) and is consistent with the discussion above which showed that a higher proportion of the year 2 sample come from elsewhere in Scotland.

Have users made changes to their home location as a result of the re-opening of the Borders Railway?

In total, 17% of respondents (n=114) said that they had moved house since the re-opening of the line. Most of these (59%, n=67) live in the Scottish Borders, 11% (n=12) live in Edinburgh and 6% (n=7) live in Midlothian[6]. However, it is noted that the sample size, particularly for Edinburgh and Midlothian is relatively small. Census data shows that in Scotland as a whole, 89% of the resident population lived in the same address a year ago compared to 82%[7] of respondents to the User Survey. Therefore, given the two-year elapsed time since the line opened, the proportion of those moving address is broadly in line with the general population as a whole.

In the Year 1 Survey, 11% (n=94) of respondents overall had moved house since 2015 with 66% (n=62) living in the Scottish Borders, 7% (n=7) live in Midlothian and 18% (n=17) lived in Edinburgh.

Figure 4.14 below shows the extent to which the re-opening of the Borders Railway was a factor in respondents’ decision to move house as recorded in both the Year 1 and Year 2 study.

Figure 4.14: Importance of the Borders Railway in respondents’ decision to move house

Figure 4.14: Importance of the Borders Railway in respondents’ decision to move house

Of those who responded to the question (n=109), the proportion stating that the line had been a factor in their decision to move (i.e. ‘main factor’, ‘it was one of a number of important factors’ or ‘it was a fairly minor factor’), in the Year 2 Survey (58%, n=63) was very similar to the Year 1 Survey results (56%, n=47).

The proportion of those who had moved home who reported that the Borders Railway had been a factor in their decision to move was higher amongst residents of the Scottish Borders (62%, n=40), compared to Midlothian (33%, n=2) and Edinburgh (25%, n=3). However, the sample sizes for both Midlothian and Edinburgh are very low and therefore it is difficult to draw any conclusions from the data for these areas. Additionally, a number of those who said that they had moved house did not answer the question or did not provide their home postcodes.

Respondents who indicated that the re-opening of the railway was a factor in their decision to move home were also asked to provide the postcode of both their former and current home. In total 57 respondents answered these questions. Of these 79% (n=46) had moved to or within the Scottish Borders and 14% (n=7) had moved to or within Midlothian. Amongst those moving to or within the Scottish Borders, 15% (n=7) had moved from elsewhere in the Scottish Borders and 85% (n=39) had moved from locations outside of the Scottish Borders (the largest proportion of which moved from Edinburgh (26%, n=10) followed by Midlothian (13%, n=5)).

All of those who had moved to Midlothian (n=7) had moved from locations outside of Midlothian, with the largest number moving from Edinburgh (n=3) with one respondent each moving from Glasgow, Angus, the Scottish Borders and overseas. However, it is noted that the sample size for respondents moving to Midlothian is small and therefore it is difficult to draw firm conclusions.

Figure 4.15 shows the home location of those respondents who provided their current postcode and stated that they moved home since the re-opening of the line. The results are split by those who said that the Borders Railway had been a factor in their decision to move and those who said it had not been a factor. The map suggests that there has been a relatively high rate of movement in the Tweedbank and Galashiels areas. However, the sample sizes for this question are relatively small which could affect the reliability of the results.

Figure 4.15: Current home location of those who have moved home since the re-opening of the Borders Railway

Figure 4.15: Current home location of those who have moved home since the re-opening of the Borders Railway

Respondents who had moved home (n=114) were also asked whether they would have moved to their current location had the Borders Railway not been re-opened. Some 29% (n=33) stated that they would not have moved to their current address if the railway had not re-opened. This compares with Year 1, where 32% (n=30) stated that they would not have moved to their current address if the line had not re-opened, a slightly smaller proportion agreed with this statement in Year 2.

The proportion stating that they would not have moved was higher amongst Scottish Borders residents compared to Midlothian and Edinburgh, however, the sample sizes for this question for both Midlothian and Edinburgh were very small and therefore conclusions cannot be drawn from this.

Key Point:
The results suggest that the Borders Railway has affected people’s residential choices. Of those identified in the sample who had moved address since the re-opening of the line, over half reported that the railway was a factor in determining their current address. The data also suggests that there has been in-migration into both the Scottish and Midlothian from surrounding areas, with the largest proportions moving from Edinburgh. However, it is noted that the sample sizes for this question, particularly for those moving to Midlothian are very small. The proportion who stated that the line had been a factor in their decision to move was slightly lower in Year 2 compared to Year 1, although the difference is marginal.

Have users made changes to their employment as a result of the re-opening of the Borders Railway?

In total, 15% (n=99) of respondents to the User Survey from Edinburgh, Midlothian or the Scottish Borders had changed workplace since the re-opening of the railway. Of these, 52% (n=52) stated that the re-opening of the Borders Railway was a factor in their decision to move workplace (with one respondent who did not answer the question regarding the railway being a factor) while 46% (n=46) said that the line had not been a factor.

Overall, 6% of respondents to the Year 1 Survey from Edinburgh, Midlothian and the Scottish Borders had changed workplace since the re-opening of the railway. As shown in the figure below, the proportion of respondents stating that the line was the main factor was considerably lower in Year 2 (18%, n=18) compared to Year 1 (53%, n=24) while the proportion stating that it was not a factor in Year 2 (46%, n=46) was considerably higher compared to Year 1 (9%, n=4). Even so, around 50% of these Year 2 respondents did recognise that the re-opening of the line was a factor to a greater or lesser extent in their change of employment.

Figure 4.16: Importance of the Borders Railway in respondents’ decision to move workplace

Figure 4.16: Importance of the Borders Railway in respondents’ decision to move workplace

Respondents were also asked whether the number of hours they work had changed as a result of the re-opening of the line. As shown in Figure 4.17, the majority of respondents (55%, n=350) reported that the railway had made no impact on the number of hours they work, with 9% (n=59) stating that they now work more hours and 3% (n=18) stating that they now worked fewer hours.

Figure 4.17: Impact of the Borders Railway on the number of hours worked by respondents

Figure 4.17: Impact of the Borders Railway on the number of hours worked by respondents

Key Point:
There is evidence that the Borders Railway has had an impact on people’s choice of workplace with 18% of those who moved employment stating that the re-opening of the line had been the main factor in their decision. Overall, the results suggest that there has also been a modest impact on the number of hours worked in terms of working more and fewer hours.

Investment Objective 3 Summary

Prevent decline in the Borders population by securing ready access to Edinburgh’s labour market

Overall, the results of the research suggest that the Borders Railway is achieving Objective 3. As discussed above, commuting is the most common journey purpose and Edinburgh is the most frequent destination, suggesting that the line has secured access to employment opportunities in the capital for residents of the Scottish Borders and Midlothian. The results also suggest that the improved access opportunities associated with the rail line have influenced people’s residential choices and encouraged in-migration to both Midlothian and the Scottish Borders. There is evidence that the Borders Railway has had an impact on people’s choice of workplace with nearly a fifth of those who moved employment stating that the re-opening of the line had been the main factor in their decision. Overall, the impact on the number of house worked is small.

Objective 4: Create modal shift from car to public transport

By which mode did users previously make their journey prior to the re-opening of the Borders Railway?

Some 61% (n=490) of respondents to the Year 2 Survey said that prior to the re-opening of the Border Railway they had regularly made the trip they were making at the time of the survey by another mode. Of these, 487 provided details of the mode they previously used and the majority (64%, n=312) reported that they previously drove all the way to their destination (see Figure 4.18 below), suggesting that the railway has encouraged significant modal shift from car to rail. Additionally, a large proportion (25%, n=122) stated that they previously travelled by bus indicating that there has also been modal shift from bus to rail.

Figure 4.18: Main method of transport used by respondents to the User Survey for their current trip prior to the re-opening of the Borders Railway

Figure 4.18: Main method of transport used by respondents to the User Survey for their current trip prior to the re-opening of the Borders Railway

The results from the Year 2 Survey were broadly comparable to those from the Year 1 Survey for this question.

The frequency with which each respondent indicated they made their current trip was used to estimate the number of annual single trips associated with respondents’ previous journeys using the conversion factors in Appendix B. Using this approach, it is estimated that based on the data from the Year 2 sample alone approximately 36,000 single car trips and 14,000 bus trips per year have been shifted to rail (see Table 4.3). It is noted that this approach assumes that there has been no change in the number of trips made by respondents since the re-opening of the railway and all trips now made by rail by these respondents were previously made by another mode.

Table 4.3: Mode used by respondents for current trip prior to the re-opening of the railway and associated number of annual single trips
Mode used by respondent for trip prior to re-opening of railway Number of Responses Percentage of Responses Number of implied single Journeys per annum Percentage of Journeys
Car, drive all the way to destination 312 64% 35,794 64%
Car, passenger all the way to destination 26 5% 1,868 3%
Bus based park and ride 9 2% 850 2%
Bus, all the way to destination 122 25% 14,114 25%
Other 18 4% 3,216 6%
Total 487 55,842

In total, the above figures suggest that the railway has resulted in approximately 36,000 ‘saved’ car trips per annum. Whilst some of these saved car trips will be offset by the car miles associated with new rail trips for which the car is used to access the station, the latter are likely to be shorter trips and therefore overall there is likely to be a net reduction in car miles. Although not examined in detail here, this saving in terms of car miles is likely to have led to a number of environmental and other benefits. These include, for example, carbon savings associated with fewer car trips (a key aim of the Scottish Government as set out in the Climate Change Delivery Plan[8]), reductions in congestion and improvements in local air quality.

Overall, 31% (n=250) of respondents to the question said that they did not previously make their current trip prior to the re-opening of the railway. Using the approach discussed above, it is calculated that an estimated 35,900 annual single trips on the railway, or approximately 35% of those recorded via the sample, would not therefore have been undertaken had the Borders Railway not been in place, underlining the point that people are using the line to take up new opportunities.

Key Point:
The re-opening of the Borders Railway has resulted in significant modal shift from car to rail, with the majority of respondents (64%) who previously made their trip by another mode stating that they drove all the way to their destination. Based on the journey frequency of this group, this equates to an estimated 36,000 saved annual single car trips from the sample alone.

While some of these saved trips will be offset by the car miles linked with new rail trips for which the car is used to access the station, these are likely to be shorter trips and therefore the net impact in terms of saved car miles is likely to be positive with benefits including carbon reduction, reduced congestion and improved local air quality.

As well as generating modal shift from car to rail, the data also highlights that there has been a shift from bus to rail with 25% of the sample stating that they previously made their current journey by bus equating to approximately 14,100 annual single trips.

How do users get to the station?

Figure 4.19 shows the main method of transport used by respondents travelling from the Scottish Borders and Midlothian whilst Figure 4.20 shows the same data weighted by frequency with which respondents make their current trip.

Figure 4.19: Main method of transport used to access origin train station (respondents)

Figure 4.19: Main method of transport used to access origin train station (respondents)

Figure 4.20: Main method of transport used to access origin station (respondents weighted by frequency of journey)

Figure 4.20: Main method of transport used to access origin station (respondents weighted by frequency of journey)

These figures highlight that driving and parking at the station is the most common method of transport for those taking the train from Tweedbank station with 60% (n=199) of respondents travelling from Tweedbank Station using this method, equating to approximately 67% (n=20,054) of the journeys for which a mode was provided. Conversely, walking is the most common method of transport for those boarding the train at Galashiels, Gorebridge, Newtongrange and Eskbank (49%, 50%, 46% and 38% respectively). In terms of bus travel, those taking the train from Galashiels had the highest proportion of bus usage for getting to the station (19%, n=29), equivalent to 12% (n=2,608) of annual single journeys. However, it is worth noting that the sample sizes for all stations except Tweedbank and Galashiels are relatively small which may impact the reliability of the results.

It is notable that a proportion of users of Galashiels Station state that they park their car, either at the station (9%, n=14) or elsewhere (7%, n=11). There is no dedicated station car park at Galashiels Station as the station was focused towards capturing more local trips. However, despite the lack of dedicated car park, it is evident that some users are electing to drive to the station and are likely using nearby car parks.

The above data is broadly comparable to the results from the Year 1 Survey. However, the proportion of respondents using active travel modes is slightly higher in the Year 2 Survey compared to the Year 1 Survey (see Table 4.4 below). This is likely a result of the time period when the surveys were completed, with the Year 1 Survey undertaken during November and the Year 2 Survey completed in August and September.

Table 4.4: Year 1 and Year 2 main method of transport used to access origin station (respondents)
Mode Year 1 (November) Year 2 (August – September)
Walk 26% 31%
Bicycle 1% 2%

Key Point:
Driving and parking at the station is the most common method of transport used by those travelling from Tweedbank station, with walking to the station being the most common mode of travel to Galashiels, Gorebridge, Newtongrange and Eskbank. Overall, the highest proportion of bus share is at Galashiels, with bus travel accounting for relatively few journeys to the other stations. It is notable that a proportion of users of Galashiels Station park their car near the station despite the lack of dedicated car park. Overall, the proportion of trips made using active travel modes is higher in Year 2 compared to Year 1. This is likely a result of the time period when the surveys were completed, with the Year 1 Survey undertaken during November and the Year 2 Survey completed in August and September.

Has the re-opening of the Borders Railway resulted in changes in car ownership?

Overall, the majority of residents of Scottish Borders, Midlothian and Edinburgh (89%, n=585) reported that the re-opening of the line had had no impact on the number of vehicles owned or run by their household. However, 6% (n=40) said that they had reduced the number of vehicles in their household as a result of taking the train journeys they previously made by car. Although, 1% (n=5) found that they had increased the number of vehicles in their household to allow them to drive to the stations and 1% (n=4) had increased the number of vehicles as a result of the removal / changes in bus routes.

Key Point:
While not an objective of the study and perhaps a longer term impact, the result suggests that the re-opening of the line has also resulted in some changes to car ownership levels.

Investment Objective 4 Summary

Create modal shift from the car to public transport

Overall, the results of the research suggest that the Borders Railway is achieving Objective 4. The responses to the User Survey suggest that there has been a significant modal shift from car to rail, with the majority of respondents (64%) who previously made their trip by another mode stating that they drove all the way to their destination equating to an estimated 36,000 saved annual single car trips from the sample alone. While some of these saved car trips will be offset by car miles associated with new rail trips for which the car is used to access the station, the latter are likely to be shorter and therefore the net impact in terms of reduced car miles is likely to be positive with resultant benefits in terms of carbon reduction, congestion and air quality. While slightly outside of the scope of the objective, it is also worth noting that as well as generating modal shift from car to rail, there has also been a shift from bus to rail with 25% of the sample stating that they previously made their current journey by bus equating to an estimated 14,100 trips.