Main Findings

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

Main Findings

  • In Year 2, overall travel on the line has increased by 9.5%. As in Year 1, the majority of patronage on the line is towards Edinburgh with Tweedbank accounting for the biggest component of demand and Edinburgh Waverley the most frequent destination.
  • Compared to Year 1, has been an increase in inbound and outbound travel at all the Midlothian stations while the number of people travelling to Galashiels and Tweedbank has fallen with the latter likely a reflection of the novelty impact of the line.
  • Based on the frequency with which respondents indicated they made their current trip, it is estimated that approximately 35,900 (35%) of the estimated annual single trips recorded via the sample were ‘new trips’.
  • In terms of tourists, 71% said that the re-opening of the line had been a factor in choosing to make their trip and 25% stated that they would not have made the trip had the line not been in place.
  • Commuting is the most common journey purpose. In comparison to the Year 1 Survey, there is a higher proportion of commuting and leisure trips and a smaller proportion of educational trips. In total, 60% of respondents to the User Survey reported that the purpose of their trip was either a tourist day trip or an overnight stay. Of these, 25% were travelling to Midlothian and / or the Scottish Borders.
  • The re-opening of the Borders Railway has resulted in significant modal shift from the car to public transport with 61% of respondents stating that they previously made their journey by another mode. Of these, 64% reported that they previously drove all their way to their destination resulting in approximately 35,800 saved single car trips.
  • There has also been a shift from bus to rail with 25% of those who formerly travelled by another method reporting that they took the bus, equating to a reduction in approximately 14,100 annual single trips.
  • While the re-opening of the railway has resulted in improvements in access between stations, there have been changes in the bus network which are likely to have led to declines in accessibility at some locations. Most notable amongst these declines is the reduction in frequency of the X95 Service which is likely to have led to a reduction in access for areas on the A7 served by this bus which are not directly served by the Borders Railway.
  • The data indicates that the Borders Railway has influenced people’s residential and workplace choices with nearly 17% stating that they had moved house since the re-opening of the line of which 58% stated that the re-opening of the Borders Railway was a factor in their decision. The proportion who stated that the line had been a factor in their decision to move was slightly higher in Year 2 compared to Year 1 although the difference is marginal. Of those who had moved house, 29% stated that they would not have moved to their current address in the absence of the railway, a similar figure to that seen in Year 1.
  • There is evidence that the Borders Railway has had an impact on people’s choice of workplace with 52%% of those who had moved employment stating that the re-opening of the line had been a factor in their decision.
  • Generally, there was a high level of satisfaction with 95% of respondents rating the quality of service as Very Good or Good. Users were least satisfied with Other aspects of service such as the on-board facilities (toilets, Wi-Fi) as well as Storage facilities for bicycles / buggies on the train’.
  • The greater convenience offered by the car was the most popular reason amongst one-off, non- and irregular users for not using the service / not using the service more frequently. In Midlothian, the bus was highlighted as a greater draw than in the Scottish Borders with 51% finding the bus cheaper than the train and 40% finding it more convenient.
  • Overall, 40% of one-off, non- and irregular users said that improvements to the Borders Railway would encourage them to use the railway / use it more frequently, with ‘lower train fares’ being the most popular improvement.