4. Outcome Evaluation
4. Outcome Evaluation
4.1 Transport Scotland’s guidance explains that ‘an outcome evaluation should be conducted once the project has been in existence for a sufficient period to enable an examination to be undertaken of actual performance against identified targets’.
4.2 The purpose of this outcome evaluation is therefore to determine whether the reopening of Laurencekirk station is meeting the transport planning objectives, as developed within the original appraisal undertaken in 2004. The Transport Planning Objectives of the original STAG appraisal were to:
- Link rural commuters to centres of employment, educational establishments and other facilities;
- Encourage greater use of public transport by connecting the township of Laurencekirk and its surrounding area to the rail network;
- Encourage modal shift from private car to public transport by constructing a Park and Ride facility serving the new station; and
- Improve road safety by encouraging a reduction in trips made by road and through reduced road traffic.
4.3 This chapter assesses the impact of the station since its reopening against these objectives, taking each objective in turn and determining the extent to which it has been delivered. The performance of the station against the transport planning objectives has been evidenced using a number of sources and tools. The main factor used has been an online passenger survey, but this was supplemented by, for example, accessibility analysis. At this stage, the analysis does not include the impact against the STAG criteria, which is covered in Chapter 5.
4.4 The majority of the evidence used to develop this analysis has been gathered from an extensive online passenger survey. In summary, the online survey was designed to gain a better understanding of Laurencekirk rail user travel patterns, both currently and prior to the opening of the station.
4.5 The survey was ‘live’ over a six-week period. A very good response was generated, with a total of 204 people completing the questionnaire (compared to an initial target of 100 responses).
4.6 Following the survey, the recorded trips made by respondents were scaled up using the frequency of travel information provided to generate an overall figure of 52,745 recorded journeys over the previous 12 months. For context, this compares with the latest figure for the total number of exits and entries at the station in 2012-13 of 92,470 (see section 4.12 below) i.e. the number of journeys made by those surveyed accounted for over 55% of the total rail journeys to and from the station, so this can be viewed as a very good sample of station users.
4.7 It should be noted at the outset that the transport planning objectives in the original appraisal do not meet all of the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time bound) criteria as set out in STAG and the HM Treasury Green Book – Appraisal and Evaluation in Central Government. In particular, the objectives were not quantified and time bound, although we would acknowledge that setting fully SMART objectives is not always possible. It is therefore not possible to provide an assessment against whether specific quantified targets have or have not been met. However, the survey results do provide a useful indication of the impact the station has made towards the aims and objectives. The following sections set out the impact of the station against each objective.
4.8 To understand the true additional impacts of the scheme it is important to know the counterfactual, i.e. what would have happened to people’s travel behaviour and travel decisions if the station had not been reopened. To inform this, the survey included a series of questions about how people would have made their journeys, if at all, had the station not reopened. This covered all journey purposes. The results are used to inform the findings of this chapter.
4.9 To carry out an effective outcome evaluation it is important to know the travel behaviour of users of the station before it was reopened. Without the ‘before’ information it is not possible to compare the performance of the project against its objectives.
4.10 While the online survey was a useful tool to gather this information it does generate inherent risks with the accuracy and reliability of the data due to respondents not having accurate records of their travel behaviour before the station was reopened.
4.11 It is recommended that, for future evaluations, baseline information is gathered on the travel behaviour of users, either in advance of project opening or straight after opening.
|Year||Entries and Exits|
4.12 The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) publishes estimates of station usage on an annual basis. The figures show that in the first year of reopening (2009-2010) there were 56,496 entries and exits at Laurencekirk station. This was followed by 73,594 in 2010-11, 86,142 in 2011-12 and 92,470 in 2012-13. On the face of it, therefore, the reopening of the station has resulted in a large and increasing number of rail journeys to and from Laurencekirk, growing by 26% between the full years 2010-11 and 2012-13. This would suggest that the station has made a positive contribution to a number of the objectives.
4.13 As discussed above, scaling up our survey responses to account for the total number of journeys that were made by respondents accounts for over 52,700 journeys to or from Laurencekirk station, therefore representing more than half the total entries and exits in 2012-13.
4.14 The results of the survey indicate that the reopening of the station has provided a valuable link between Laurencekirk and a number of key centres and facilities in the surrounding area. Those travelling out from Laurencekirk use the station to access employment, education and other facilities in the surrounding centres, with 58% of those surveyed using it for commuter purposes (amounting to 16,578 outward journeys per year), 24% for business purposes (amounting to 1,345 outward journeys per year) and 86% using it for other journey purposes (amounting to 6,761 outward journeys per year).
4.15 Of these ‘other’ journey purposes, as shown in Figure 2 below, just under one third are made for shopping purposes (n=257, 32%), just under a quarter (23%) for the purpose of visiting friends and/or family (n=183) and a similar proportion (22%) for the purpose of attending sporting events/other entertainment (n=178).
4.16 By far the most popular destination for commuter journeys was Aberdeen, which accounted for 83% (n=84) of named commuter destinations (see Figure 3). Smaller numbers also commute to Dundee (4%), Dyce (3%), Arbroath (2%), Edinburgh (2%), Stonehaven (2%) and Elgin (1%).
4.17 The pattern of destinations for business trips differs slightly from that of commuting (see Figure 4), with the main destinations for this purpose being Edinburgh and Glasgow which each account for 29% (n=17) of named business trips, followed by Aberdeen (n=10, 17%).
4.18 In terms of other purpose trips (see Figure 5), the most common destination is again Aberdeen (n=138, 38%), with Edinburgh the second most common (n=63, 18%), followed by Glasgow (n=45, 13%) and Dundee (n=33, 9%).
4.19 The station is also used by a smaller proportion of individuals travelling into Laurencekirk from the surrounding areas, with 1,760 such journeys per year reported via the survey and slightly less on the return leg at 1,552 trips. As with those travelling out, these individuals use the station for commuting to work and education, business purposes and other purposes such as shopping and visiting family and friends.
4.20 Figure 6 below shows the location where participants typically get on the train for the outward leg of the return journey ending in Laurencekirk. As shown, of those responding to this question, 45% (n=9) started their journey in Aberdeen, 15% (n=3) in Dundee and 10% (n=2) in both Stonehaven and Glasgow.
4.21 While all of the above provides clear evidence that the station is important in linking the rural community of Laurencekirk and the surrounding area to centres of employment, educational establishments and other facilities, it is also important to understand whether people would still make the trip if the station had not been reopened i.e. what would be the counterfactual situation. Would they simply access the facilities by another mode and the station is therefore not facilitating an increase in access?
4.22 To understand the counterfactual, respondents to the survey were divided into those who have lived in Laurencekirk for a lengthy period (68%), and those who moved just before or after the station reopened (32%). The former group were asked how they made their specified journeys prior to the reopening of Laurencekirk, while the latter were asked how they would have made the journeys if the station had not reopened.
4.23 The responses suggest that a number of individuals are now making journeys which they did not previously make or would not have made had the station not reopened, i.e. the station is having a positive impact on improving access to facilities. This is set out in Table 2 below.
|Journey Purpose||Always Lived in Laurencekirk||Moved to Laurencekirk after station reopening|
4.24 For example, 21% (n=12) of commuters who have always lived in Laurencekirk did not make the journey prior to the station reopening and 14% (n=6) of those who recently moved to Laurencekirk would not have made the same journey had the station not reopened.
4.25 Similarly, 6% (n=2) of those travelling for business who have always lived in Laurencekirk did not previously make the trip prior to the station reopening and 4% (n=1) of those who recently moved to Laurencekirk would not have made the journey if the station had not reopened.
4.26 In terms of other purpose trips, 12% (n=30) of those individuals who have always lived in Laurencekirk did not make the journey prior to the reopening of the station and 17% (n=18) of those who recently moved to the area would not have made the journey had the station not reopened.
4.27 Those respondents that had always lived in Laurencekirk were also asked if they now make their specified business trips and/or other purpose journeys more or less often as a result of the station reopening. Responses indicated that 44% (n=16) of individuals travelling for business and more than half (n=135, 54%) of those travelling for other purposes now make their journeys more often.
4.28 In addition to the survey results, accessibility analysis was undertaken using Accession Software to assess how public transport journey times from Laurencekirk to key employment and education centres have changed since the reopening of the station. Note that this analysis does not consider car-based or mixed-mode (ie Park and Ride) journey times, but rather provides a before and after analysis of the times of journeys made by public transport only.
4.29 The following data sources were used in the analysis:
|Origins||Postcode centroids||OS Code Point Open|
|Destinations||Key Employment and Education Centres||Geocoded manually|
|Road Network||Road Network with estimated speeds||OS Meridian|
|PT Network||National Public Transport Data Repository (NPTDR) data||NPTDR download|
|Population||2011 Datazone Population||General Register Office for Scotland (GROS)small area mid-year population estimates 2011|
4.30 Postcodes were selected within a radius of three miles of Laurencekirk centre and the following destinations were used:
- Aberdeen Station
- Union Street, Aberdeen
- Aberdeen Royal Infirmary
- University of Aberdeen
- Dundee Station
- Dundee High Street
- University of Dundee
4.31 Tests were undertaken over the time period 07:00-10:00am.
4.32 The locations of each of the destinations in Aberdeen and Dundee and the three mile postcode catchment are shown in Figure 7.
4.33 The results of the calculations are presented in terms of population within different time bands of the destinations (see Tables 2 and 3 below). The weighted average travel time by public transport per person to each of the destinations is included in Table 4.
4.34 The results show that the reopening of Laurencekirk station has reduced the travel time by public transport to both Aberdeen and Dundee during this time period. Some 68% of the population within a three mile radius of Laurencekirk can now reach Aberdeen Railway station in less than one hour, with an average journey time per person of 65 minutes. This compares to an average journey time of 115 minutes prior to the station reopening, a reduction of 50 minutes. Indeed, 78% and 73% of the catchment population can reach Aberdeen’s Union Street and Royal Infirmary respectively by public transport within 90 minutes since the station reopened at Laurencekirk. Without the station 0% could have reached it within 90 minutes.
4.35 Similarly, 74% of the population within three miles of Laurencekirk can reach Dundee Station within 90 minutes during this time period, with the average journey time per person falling by more than ten minutes, from 91 to 80 minutes, as a result of the reopening of the station. Prior to the station reopening only 68% of the catchment population could reach these destinations within 90 minutes.
4.36 In summary, the results of the accessibility analysis indicate that the reopening of the station has led to facilities becoming more accessible, in terms of journey time, particularly for those without access to a car. The greatest reduction in journey times has occurred between Laurencekirk and destinations in Aberdeen but there have also been improvements in journey times to key centres and facilities in Dundee.
4.37 The objective to ‘Link rural commuters to centres of employment, educational establishments and other facilities improving accessibility’ has been met. Journey times by public transport have been reduced, and more journeys are being made.
4.38 The reopening of the station does appear to have encouraged greater use of public transport. Figure 8 below shows the journey mode used prior to the station reopening for those commuters who have always lived in Laurencekirk. The Figure also shows the journey mode which commuters who recently moved to the area suggested they would have used if the station had not reopened.
4.39 Of those who have always lived in Laurencekirk, just over half (55%, n=32) indicated that prior to the station reopening they made this journey as a car driver all the way to their place of work and 21% (n=12) indicated that they drove to another station and took the train. Just one individual stated that they previously used public transport (by taking the bus to another station and taking the train). In addition, as noted in Section 4.2.13, a further 21% (n=12) of commuters did not make the journey prior to the station reopening.
4.40 Of those who relocated either just before or after the station reopened, just over half (57%, n=25) stated that they would have driven all the way to their employment destination had the station not reopened and a further 16% (n=7) would have driven to another station and taken the train. As stated in the previous section, 14% (n=6) of this group stated that they would not have undertaken the journey had the station not reopened.
4.41 Similar patterns were also evident for the business journeys undertaken by both groups, as shown in Figure 9 below.
4.42 Of those travelling for business who lived in Laurencekirk before the station reopened, slightly less than half (47%, n=17) previously drove all the way to the destination, 36% (n=13) drove to another station and took the train, and 6% did not make the journey prior to the station reopening.
4.43 A similar pattern was evident for those who moved more recently to Laurencekirk. Slightly less than half (48%, n=12) stated that they would have driven all the way to the destination had the station not reopened and just over one third (36%, n=9) would have driven to another station and taken the train. Just 4% of this group would have undertaken their journey by bus and, as discussed above, 4% would not have made the journey had the station not reopened.
4.44 Figure 10 below shows the mode used for ‘other purpose’ trips prior to the station reopening / if the station had not reopened.
4.45 As shown, over half of both long-term residents of Laurencekirk and those who moved more recently previously made or would have made their journey by driving all the way to their destination. In addition 13% (n=14) of long-term residents and 9% (n=23) of new residents previously made or would have made their journey by driving a car to another station and catching the train.
4.46 While the bus was previously used / would have been used more frequently for other journey purposes than for commuter or business trips, the numbers are small and the car remains the dominant alternative when the train is not an option.
4.47 While sample sizes are small and therefore may not be representative of the total population, those travelling into the area also reported a pattern of car use for their journeys prior to the station reopening / if the station had not reopened.
4.48 Of those responding to this question who recently moved to the area, five (50%) stated that they would have made the journey by car (either as a driver or passenger) had the station not reopened. A further two (20%) stated that they would have been driven to another station from which they would have taken a train, one (10%) said they would not have made the journey and one (10%) said they would have made the journey by bus.
4.49 Respondents were also asked whether the reopening of the station had impacted the number of vehicles owned or run in their household.
4.50 Of those respondents who typically travel outbound from Laurencekirk, the majority (n=141, 80%) stated that the station reopening had had no impact on household car ownership. However, 28 respondents (16%) did say that they had reduced the number of vehicles in the household as they can now walk to the train station where they had previously required a second car to drive to, for example, Stonehaven or Montrose. A few who indicated ‘other’ at this question also went on to explain that, although they still own the same number of vehicles they now use them less often, with typical comments being as follows:
“Not relying on the car for several journeys a month, therefore saving on fuel.”
“Still own two cars but we only run one during week, using the other intermittently over the weekend.”
“We still have two cars, but they’re used less.”
4.51 Of those travelling into Laurencekirk who responded to this question the majority (n=17, 85%) stated that it had not had an impact. However, two people (10%) stated that it had resulted in a reduction in the number of vehicles because they can now walk to the station. One person indicated ‘other’ and went on to explain the reopening of the station had meant that they did not need to buy a car because of the rail link to Aberdeen.
4.52 Overall, the results from the survey of users of the station suggest that the reopening of the station at Laurencekirk has made a positive contribution to encouraging the use of public transport. Perhaps more importantly, the results indicate that a large proportion of people using the station would have previously made the journey by car and thus the greater use of public transport has been due to a shift away from private vehicle use.
4.53 The objective to ‘Encourage the use of public transport by connecting the township of Laurencekirk and its surrounding area to the rail network’ has been met. Over half of journeys being undertaken via Laurencekirk station were previously made by car.
4.54 The survey results suggest that the majority of those using the station access it either on foot or as a car driver.
4.55 As shown in Figure 11, most of those using the station for the purpose of commuting access it by foot (n=55, 53%) with slightly less driving to the station (n=38, 37%).
4.56 The pattern for business journeys is similar with 40% (n=17) driving to the station and 49% (n=21) electing to walk.
4.57 In terms of other journey purposes, around two-thirds (n=99, 65%) access the station by walking, with the majority of the remaining users (n=51, 34%) travelling to the station by car, either as a driver or passenger.
4.58 While the above demonstrates that the Park and Ride facility is being used, it is also useful to examine how those driving to the station previously made or would have made their journey had the station not reopened. For example, did these individuals previously travel by car all the way to their destination, and therefore their use of the Park and Ride represents a shift towards public transport, or did they previously use public transport and therefore their use of the Park and Ride indicates a shift away from public transport for part of their journey?
4.59 To assess this, analysis was carried out to separately examine those who have always lived in Laurencekirk and those who more recently moved to the area after the station reopened. While this reduces the sample sizes for some indices, overall the responses suggest that the majority of those who currently drive to the station previously drove, or would have driven, to their final destination had the station not reopened.
4.60 For example, of those commuters who have always lived in Laurencekirk and currently drive to the station and use the Park and Ride, 54% (n=15) previously drove all the way to their destination, 21% (n=6) drove to another station and caught the train and 25% (n=7) did not previously make the trip.
4.61 Similarly, of those commuters who drive to the station who moved to Laurencekirk recently, 60% (n=6) would have driven all the way to their destination had the station not reopened, 30% (n=3) would have driven to another station and caught the train and 10% (n=1) would not make the journey.
4.62 The pattern is similar for business travel, with just over half (53%, n=9) of those driving to the station for business purposes who have always lived in Laurencekirk stating that they previously drove all the way to their destination. A further 35% (n=6) said that they previously drove to another station and caught the train, 6% (n=1) travelled as a car passenger all the way to their destination and 6% (n=1) did not make the journey.
4.63 Of those driving to the station for business journeys who recently moved to the area, 57% (n=4) would have driven all the way to the destination had the station not reopened and 43% (n=3) would have driven to another station and taken the train.
4.64 In terms of other journey purposes, the majority (66%, n=48) of those who have always lived in Laurencekirk and who drive to the station for these trips previously drove all the way to their destination, 15% (n=11) drove to another station and caught the train, 5% (n=4) travelled as a car passenger all the way to the destination and 10% (n=7) did not make the journey. Just two individuals (2%) stated that they previously undertook their journey by public transport, either directly to their destination or via bus based Park and Ride.
4.65 Similarly, of those driving to the station for other purpose journeys who recently moved to the area, 45% (n=5) stated that they would have driven all the way to the destination had the station not reopened, 45% (n=5) would have driven to another station and taken the train and 9% (n=1) would not have undertaken the journey.
4.66 Finally, in order to determine whether the construction of the Park and Ride facility has specifically resulted in modal shift, the home locations (postcodes) for former end-to-end car drivers who now use Laurencekirk station are mapped below. These locations are shown separately in Figures 14 and 15 for those who now walk to the station and those who drive to the station. It can be seen from Figure 14 that those who walk to the station reside within close proximity. From Figure 15, however, it is clear that a number of those that use the Park and Ride facility live a relatively greater distance from the station.
4.67 It can therefore be assumed that the construction of the Park and Ride facility itself has indeed encouraged modal shift from private car to public transport, i.e. most of those at the ‘red’ postcode locations identified in Figure 15 are too far away from the station to walk, and would have continued to drive for their whole journey. The only caveat to this is that people may have still switched from car to Park and Ride without the provision of a new car park by parking on-street in Laurencekirk. However this in itself can create problems locally, leading to the implementation of measures to deter this practice.
4.68 Overall the survey results suggest that the construction of the Park and Ride facility at the station has encouraged a shift from the private car to public transport. A large share of travellers use the Park and Ride facility and the majority of these previously made or would have made the journey by driving all the way to their destination. The presence of the facility has therefore likely led to a reduction in car miles travelled as more people choose to complete at least part of their journey using rail.
4.69 The objective to ‘Encourage modal shift from private car to public transport by constructing a Park and Ride facility serving the new station’ has been met as many users of the station car park would previously have undertaken their whole journey by car, and they live too far from the station to walk. This suggests that they would have continued to drive to their destination if the Park and Ride facility was not there.
4.70 The previous section showed that a number of people using Laurencekirk station would have made their journey using a car prior to the station reopening. The evidence showed therefore that there has been some modal shift to public transport as a direct consequence of the station reopening and a reduction in the number of journeys made by car.
4.71 This section will show that the majority of journeys made to and from Laurencekirk by rail are made in the peak period. If the station had not been reopened it is likely that many of these trips would have been made by car, thereby increasing congestion levels at peak periods and having a negative impact on safety.
4.72 Figure 16 below shows the typical departure and arrival times for those commuting out of and returning to Laurencekirk station.
4.73 As would be expected, commuting trips are generally concentrated in the peak periods with most respondents departing between 07:00 and 08:59 (65%, n=67) and returning between 17:00 and 18:59 (76%, n=76).
4.74 A similar pattern is evident for business travel, with 52% (n=32) of respondents indicating that they departed Laurencekirk between 07:00 and 08:59 and 49% (n=30) indicating that they returned between 17:00 and 18:59.
4.75 Unlike commuting and business travel, other journey purposes generally take place after the morning peak, with return journeys occurring over a wider period. However, those travelling by train into Laurencekirk station also appeared to be concentrated in the peak period, with most respondents arriving between 07:00 and 08:59 (n=5, 25%) and departing between 17:00 and 18:59 (n=8, 40%). Although, as stated above, the sample size for this group is relatively small and therefore this result may not be representative of the population as a whole.
4.76 The findings suggest that there has been a reduction in road miles as users of the station have shifted mode from the private car to rail and that a significant proportion of this reduction has occurred within the morning and evening peak periods.
4.77 It is clearly not possible to ascertain the quantitative impact of this on road safety using road accident statistics as available statistics are limited to local authority level, and any observed change in accident rates could in any case be attributable to many different factors. However, it is clear that the station re-opening has resulted in less people driving on routes with high levels of traffic, such as the A937 / A90 at-grade junction, and Bridge of Dee. Note however that the limited scale of any change in volumes would not be perceptible within the day to day variations in traffic levels.
4.78 The estimated impact of these traffic reduction is considered further in Chapter 5.
4.79 Whether the objective to ‘Improve road safety by encouraging a reduction in trips made by road and through reduced road traffic’ has been achieved cannot be conclusively proved via accident statistics. However a reduction in road traffic has been established via the surveys.
4.80 The findings of the outcome evaluation show that the re-opening of the station at Laurencekirk has had a positive impact as measured against all the original transport planning objectives.
4.81 The re-opening has played an important role in linking the local community in the town and surrounding area to centres of employment, educational establishments and other facilities. It has also had a positive impact on those travelling for business purposes. The results of the survey show that a number of journeys would not be made if the station had not been reopened. The Accessibility Analysis also demonstrates that facilities have become much more accessible, in terms of journey time, for those without access to a car. This has been particularly so for facilities in Aberdeen where some journey times by public transport have been reduced by up to 50 minutes.
4.82 The findings from the survey also show that the station has encouraged the use of public transport. The results reveal that the station re-opening has not only enabled people to make journeys by public transport that they would not have previously made, but it has also resulted in people making journeys that they would have previously made by car. In addition, 16% of people who travel out of the station reported that they had reduced the number of vehicles they owned as a direct result of the station reopening and less journeys being made by car. Furthermore, of those using the station, the majority travel to the station on foot suggesting that the station reopening has also contributed to an increase in active forms of travel.
4.83 The findings of the survey also reveal that the availability of the Park and Ride facility at the station has encouraged a shift from the private car to public transport. It is clear from respondents that a large share of people using Laurencekirk station also use the Park and Ride facility and a significant percentage of these previously made or would have made the journey by driving all the way to their destination. Without the Park and Ride facility it is likely, from the evidence gathered on the distance between home and station, that a number of people would drive all the way to their destination i.e. it is too far to walk on a daily basis.
4.84 The findings show that the station re-opening has resulted in a small reduction in car trips. They also show that a large proportion of these trips would have been made in the peak periods and therefore most congested times. The resulting overall reduction in car kilometres on the network suggests it has had a small but positive impact on road safety, particularly on the A90 into Aberdeen, although this cannot be observed and attributed to Laurencekirk station.
4.85 While the evidence suggests that the scheme has made a positive contribution to the objectives, it is not possible to conclude that the scheme has been a success. The objectives developed as part of the appraisal process are not SMART and do not have any quantified targets. It is therefore difficult to determine whether the scheme has resulted in alleviating the transport problems or generating opportunities.
4.86 A recommendation to ensure useful and effective evaluations of the outcomes of rail schemes is for the appraisal to develop SMART transport planning objectives so that the performance of a project can be measured and assessed quantitatively. Without such objectives or targets, it is not possible to measure the performance of a scheme against objectives ‘to link’, ‘to improve’ or ‘to encourage’. Objectives with quantified targets should therefore be developed (reflecting the identified problems that the transport scheme is being designed to tackle) so that the success of the scheme can be quantified.
4.87 We have noted though that defining SMART objectives (which are rooted in evidence rather than being arbitrary or aspirational values) can be challenging in the STAG context. Transport Scotland may wish to consider how further Guidance could be provided for Objective setting in STAG. For example, STAG could provide a ‘menu’ of typical objectives, or recommendations on how objectives can be presented in a SMART format.