Service Quality and Barriers to Use
An additional aim of the research
was to gather information on views of the Borders Railway service and examine
barriers to use amongst one-off, irregular and non-users. This Chapter provides
a summary of the key findings in this regard. The Chapter firstly discusses the
results of an analysis of ScotRail’s passenger count data to provide a context
for subsequent comment on passenger capacity issues before discussing outputs
from both the User and Non-User Surveys.
In the first year of the
railway’s operation there was a number of reports of passenger capacity issues
on the line. In order to establish an accurate picture of these issues, a
detailed analysis of ScotRail passenger count data was undertaken. This data
was collected during May and August 2017. It is based upon multiple
counts across multiple day parts on different days of the week and provides
details of the maximum occupancy, number of seats and capacity utilisation
across each service broken down by departure time and direction of travel.
Figure 6.1 – Figure 6.3 below show the maximum seated capacity utilisation on
each service for each day for which data was provided. A figure of more than
100% indicates that passengers are having to stand for at least part of their
Figure 6.1: Capacity Utilisation – Weekday
Figure 6.2: Capacity
Utilisation – Saturday
Figure 6.3: Capacity Utilisation - Sunday
Overall, the data suggests that weekends
and particularly Saturdays are busier than weekdays, with Saturday recording
the highest average capacity and the largest number of trains with a capacity
utilisation of over 100%. In addition, capacity utilisation is more of a
problem on trains departing Tweedbank, with all services which recorded a capacity
utilisation of more than 100% travelling in the Tweedbank – Edinburgh
On Saturday, capacity utilisation
was above 100% on the 09:31, 10:01 and 12:31 departures from Tweedbank (109%,
115% and 100% respectively). There were no services in the reverse direction
with a capacity utilisation above 100% with the highest utilisation being the
17:54 Edinburgh – Tweedbank departure (87%).
Similarly, on Sunday, there was
one service (11:45 departure from Tweedbank) with a capacity utilisation of
more than 100% whereas the highest capacity utilisation in the reverse
direction was 90% (16:11 departure from Edinburgh)
Based on the weekday data, capacity
utilisation was above 100% on the 07:26 Tweedbank departure (112%) and the
09:59 Tweedbank departure (106%). In contrast, the highest capacity utilisation
on a weekday travelling in the Edinburgh – Tweedbank direction was the 18:23
departure from Edinburgh (92%).
passenger count data suggests that capacity is most problematic on Saturdays
and on services departing from Tweedbank.
Figure 6.4 shows the overall
rating respondents to the User Survey provided for the quality of service
on the Borders Railway broken down by home location of respondents. Generally,
there was a high level of satisfaction with the quality of the service with 39%
(n=201) of respondents rating the quality of service as ‘Very Good’ and
a further 56% (n=290) reporting that it was ‘Good’. The quality ratings
were highest amongst the more infrequent users (i.e. those based overseas and
elsewhere in Scotland the UK).
Figure 6.4: Quality of service on
the Borders Railway
Figure 6.5 shows the net
satisfaction with various aspects of service in the Borders Railway. Net
satisfaction is the proportion of respondents who were satisfied with the
aspect of service minus the proportion of respondents who were dissatisfied.
Figure 6.5: Net Satisfaction with
aspects of service on the Borders Railway
Overall, respondents reported a
high degree of satisfaction. The lowest net satisfaction was with ‘Other’
aspects of the service (-3% net satisfaction) with comments provided on the
number of carriages available, on-board toilet facilities and lack of Wi-Fi. Net
satisfaction was also low for the ‘timing of bus connections between my home
and the station’ (for which 29% were satisfied and 16% were dissatisfied, ‘disabled
access’ (18% satisfied and 2% dissatisfied) and the ‘availability of bus
connections between my home and the station’ (32% satisfied and 16%
In the Year 1 Survey, ‘other
facilities / services at the station(s)’ has the lowest net satisfaction
rate (0% net satisfaction). As shown in the Figure below, net satisfaction
with this aspect was far higher in the Year 2 Survey (35%). At the time of the
Year 1 Survey, all Borders stations were unstaffed without toilet facilities
(except for the Interchange at Galashiels). However, since the Year 1 Survey a
new customer hub and accessible toilet facilities has opened at Tweedbank
Station. This may in part account for the higher satisfaction with these
aspects in the Year 2 Survey.
Net satisfaction with the reliability of the service (a key issue in the first year of operation) was higher
amongst Year 2 respondents (63%, n=502) compared to Year 1 (55%, n=562).
Similarly, satisfaction with capacity was also slightly higher although the
difference was more marginal with 64% (n=510) of Year 2 respondents satisfied
with their ability to find a seat on the train compared to 62% (n=636) of Year
Figure 6.6 shows the net
satisfaction with reliability and capacity broken down by the departure time of
the journey respondents were undertaking when surveyed i.e. AM is defined as
0700 – 1000, inter peak (IP) is defined as 10 – 1600 and PM is defined as 1600
6.6: Respondents satisfaction with the reliability of the service and the
ability to get a seat by time period of current journey
Generally, net satisfaction with
service reliability is lower amongst those travelling during the week. However,
with regard to getting a seat net satisfaction was higher amongst those travelling
on weekdays at AM and IP times compared to weekend trips. This reflects the
data above which indicates that capacity is more of a problem on weekend
with the quality of service was higher amongst respondents to the Year 2 survey
with 95% of Year 2 respondents rating the service as very good or good compared
to 80% of respondents to the Year 1 Survey. Year 2 respondents were least
satisfied with ‘Other’ aspects. Satisfaction was also relatively low with
storage facilities for bicycles and buggies on-board the trains and the timing
and availability of bus connections between home location and the station. Overall,
63% were satisfied with the reliability of the service whilst 64% were
satisfied with their ability to find a seat on the train, higher than the
equivalent figures for the Year 1 Survey.
Impact of Service on Investment
Respondents to the User Survey
were also asked to rate the impact of the Borders Railway against a
number of criteria. Figure 6.7 below shows the net agreement (proportion of
respondents who agree with the statement minus the proportion of respondents
who disagree) for the sample as a whole and for respondents from Midlothian and
the Scottish Borders.
Figure 6.7: Impact of the Borders
Railway (net agreement)
Overall, there was a positive
perception of the Borders Railway amongst respondents. The highest scoring
criteria were ‘promoting access to / from the Scottish Borders and
Midlothian to Edinburgh’ and ‘Improving access for those without access
to a car’, each of which had a net agreement of 91% for the sample as a
whole. This mirrors the results from the Year 1 User Surveys which also had 91%
net agreement for each of these impacts.
There was a
positive perception of the Borders Railway amongst respondents in terms of
performance against its objectives with more than 90% agreeing that the railway
had promoted access to / from the Scottish Borders and Midlothian to Edinburgh
as well as improving access for those without access to a car.
Why are people who could use
the Borders Railway not using the service?
Non-users, one-off and irregular
users who responded to the Non-User Survey were asked why they didn’t use the
service or why they didn’t use the service more frequently, and the results can
be found in the figures overleaf. Overall, the most common response was the ‘car
is more convenient’ with 72% (n=181) of respondents citing this as a reason
for their limited use. Other common responses including ‘the bus is cheaper’ (46%, n=115), ‘the bus is more convenient’ (43%, n=108), ‘the
cost of train fares’ (38%, n=95) and ‘bus connections to the station
being inconvenient’ (31%, n=77).
As with the Year 1 Survey
results, the bus was more of a draw amongst residents from Midlothian with 51%
(n=82) reporting that ‘the bus is cheaper’ compared to just 21% (n=19)
of the Scottish Borders sample. In addition, a larger proportion of Midlothian
residents (40%, n =64) felt that the bus was more convenient than the train
compared to just 20% (n=18) of Scottish Borders residents. A greater
proportion of Midlothian residents relative to Scottish Borders residents also
cited their ability to use their National Entitlement Card for free bus travel
(23% compared to 11% respectively). The more positive outlook with regard to
buses amongst Midlothian respondents is likely to be a result of the
availability of the Lothian Bus £1.60 flat fare and the large number of
services to/from Edinburgh and corroborates the findings from the bus
consultations as discussed above.
A higher proportion of Scottish
Borders residents compared to Midlothian residents selected ‘the train is
not reliable enough’ (29% compared to 24%) and ‘it is too difficult to
get a seat’ (32% and 23% respectively). In comparison with the Year 1
evaluation, the proportion of Year 2 respondents from both the Scottish Borders
and Midlothian selecting these aspects is higher.
Figure 6.8a: Reasons for not
using the Borders Railway more frequently by geography
Figure 6.8b: Reasons for not
using the Borders Railway more frequently by geography
Figure 6.8c: Reasons for not
using the Borders Railway more frequently by geography
majority of respondents (72%) stated that they did not use the service more
frequently as the car was more convenient. Other common responses included the
lower cost of bus services (46%), the greater convenience provided by the bus
(43%), the cost of train fares (38%) and the inconvenience of bus connections
(31%). As was the case during the Year 1 Survey, bus options were more of a
draw amongst Midlothian residents compared to those in the Scottish Borders.
This is likely to be a result of the availability of the flat fares and the
more developed bus network in this area. Capacity and reliability issues were
more of a concern amongst non-user respondents based in the Scottish Borders
compared to Midlothian, with the proportion of respondents citing these issues
in Year 2 higher than the equivalent figures in Year 1.
What would encourage one-off
users / irregular users / non-users to make use of the railway / make use of
the railway more frequently?
In total, 40% (n=100) of respondents
to the Non-User Survey reported that improvements to the Borders Railway would
encourage them to use the service. This is comparable to the results from the
Year 1 evaluation in which 37% (n=84) of respondents selected this option.
Figure 6.9 provides a breakdown
of the factors which respondents said would encourage them to use the service.
The most popular response was ‘lower train fares’ (84%, n=84%). Other
common responses included ‘the ability to reliably get a seat on the train’ (68%,
n=68), ‘the extension of the Borders Railway to Carlisle’ (68%, n=68)
and ‘the ability to reliably get on the train at the time they wished to
travel’ (n=63%, n=63).
Figure 6.10: Factors which would
encourage use of the Borders Railway (all respondents)
There were slight differences in
the responses from Midlothian and Scottish Borders residents. In Midlothian,
the most popular improvements were ‘the ability to reliably get a seat on
the train’ and ‘improved reliability’ (63%, n=37 respectively). This
was followed by ‘the extension of the Borders Railway to Carlisle’ (61%,
n=36). Other popular improvements included ‘enhanced frequency throughout
the day’ (54%, n=32), ‘improved punctuality’ (53%, n=31) and ‘the
ability to reliably get on the train at the time I want to travel’ (53%, n=31).
For the Scottish Borders, the most popular response was ‘lower train fares’ (83,
n=34). Other common responses included ‘the ability to reliably get a seat’ (78%,
n=32), ‘the extension of the Borders Railway to Carlisle’ (78%, n=32)
and ‘improved reliability’ (73%, n=30).
Those respondents to the Non-User
Survey who said improvements would encourage them to use the service (n=100)
were also asked how many trips they would make if the service was
improved in the way they identified. Based on the responses provided and using
the frequency factors outlined in Appendix B, it is estimated that an
additional 4,924 trips per year would be made (by this sample of 100) on the
service if the improvements outlined above were made.
Respondents were also asked which
stations they would typically travel from and to when making these trips.
As shown in Figure 6.11, a range of origin stations were selected. Overall,
the largest proportion of respondents selected Tweedbank (29%, n=29). However,
based on the frequency with which respondents indicated they would make their
journey Eskbank was the most popular origin station accounting for 35%
(n=1,743) of the estimated potential annual trips. As shown in Figure 6.12, Edinburgh
Waverley was the most popular destination, accounting for 71% (n=71) of
responses and 82% (n=4,024) of the potential journeys.
6.11: Origin Station of Potential Future Trips
6.12: Destination Station of Potential Future Trips
In order to understand the degree
of modal shift such journeys would generate, respondents were also asked by
which mode they currently make these journeys. The results can be seen in
Figure 6.13 below.
Figure 6.13: Mode Currently used
for Potential Future Trips
Just over half of respondents
stated that they currently drive all the way to their destination, with a
further 6% travelling as car passengers, suggesting that, should the improvements
be made, there would be some modal shift from car to rail.
However, a significant proportion
(31%, n=31) stated that they currently make these journeys by bus and therefore
there would also likely be some modal shift from bus to rail.
40% of respondents to the Non-User Survey stated that improvements to the
Borders Railway would encourage them to use the service with the most popular
response being ‘lower train fares’. Whilst those in the Scottish Borders also
cited ‘lower train fares’ as the most likely to encourage greater use, the most
popular response in Midlothian was ‘the ability to reliably get a seat on the
train’. Respondents were also asked to indicate how often they would make journeys
on the line if their suggested improvements were made. Based on the frequency
responses provided, it is estimated that almost 5,000 additional rail journeys
per year would be made by the 100 respondents questioned, with almost 50% of
these ‘car to rail’ trips and almost a third ‘bus to rail’ trips.