Larkhall – Milngavie Railway Project Evaluation Study Final Report
5. assessement against project objectives
5.1. One of the key evaluation study objectives is to provide a comprehensive assessment of the extent to which the project has met its objectives.
5.2. This chapter assesses each objective in turn. For project objectives 1 to 3, assessment was based simply on the current service specification. For project objectives 4 to 6, assessment was achieved primarily through analysis of the User Survey and Business Survey results. Additionally, project objective 5 was informed through the TRACC accessibility analysis.
5.3. Project objective 1 was 'to reconnect Larkhall to the rail network to allow the introduction of a half hourly service'.
5.4. Passenger services began serving Larkhall again from 12th December 2005, as well as the two new stations at Merryton and Chatelherault. Trains now run every 30 minutes to Glasgow Central throughout the day from Monday to Saturday. An hourly service operates on Sunday.
The objective to reconnect Larkhall to the rail network has been fully achieved with a half-hourly service now running from the town to central Glasgow throughout the day.
5.5. Project objective 2 was 'to double the frequency of services between Milngavie and central Glasgow and between Hamilton and central Glasgow'.
5.6. Since the re-opening of the Larkhall line in December 2005, there has been a doubling in the frequency of services from typically two to four trains per hour between Hamilton and central Glasgow throughout the day from Monday to Saturday. The Sunday service frequency is typically three trains per hour.
5.7. Similarly, there has been a doubling in the frequency of services from typically two to four trains per hour between Milngavie and central Glasgow throughout the day from Monday to Saturday. A half-hourly service runs on Sunday.
The objective to double the frequency of services between Hamilton and central Glasgow and between Milngavie and central Glasgow has been fully achieved with at least a four trains per hour service operating on each branch throughout the day.
5.8. Project objective 3 was 'to remove an operational bottleneck on the North Suburban Line'.
5.9. Before the extension of the North Suburban line from Maryhill to Anniesland, Maryhill Line services had to run empty to Knightswood North Junction (near Westerton) to reverse before returning to Queen Street.
5.10. Since the reinstatement of the line, this bottleneck has been removed; Maryhill line services now run into Anniesland (via the new station at Kelvindale) before returning to Queen Street. The extension has also freed up capacity for the extra trains serving the new line to Larkhall to run through Westerton and onwards to Milngavie.
The objective to remove an operational bottleneck on the North Suburban Line has been fully achieved.
5.11. Project objective 4 was 'to increase the attractiveness of Larkhall and Kelvindale and the surrounding areas for inward investment and land development'.
5.12. To assess the extent to which this objective has been met, information on land development for residential or business purposes was obtained. The responses from the User Survey were also analysed to determine whether the rail improvements have influenced respondents' decisions to move home and/or change jobs, as well as impacted on local spending habits. The Business Survey responses were used to assess whether the rail project had been a factor in a firm's decision to relocate to or open a new branch in the area.
Land Development Evidence
5.13. Regarding land development for residential purposes, information from South Lanarkshire Council suggests that the reopening of the three Larkhall stations has led to an increase in house building and has contributed to the area being classed a Community Growth Area – this is discussed in more detail in Chapter 7. In total, 1,800 new homes in the Larkhall area are expected to be built, representing a significant investment in housing infrastructure in the area.
5.14. There is little evidence of land development for business or industrial purposes in Larkhall or Kelvindale. Data from South Lanarkshire Council suggests that there has been no significant industrial developments in Larkhall since 2005, with the exception of a new NHS distribution warehouse.
User and Business Survey Results
5.16. There is evidence from the survey to suggest that reconnecting the stretch of line from Larkhall to Hamilton to the rail network has had an impact on making the Larkhall area a more attractive place to live ( Table 49). For example, the survey data indicates that the rail improvements have influenced residents' decisions to move to Larkhall and that there is a perception that property prices have increased as a result of the new stations.
5.17. The impact of reopening Kelvindale station has also been beneficial ( Table 50) but it has been more limited compared to Larkhall, perhaps because this involved just the re-opening of just one station rather than re-connecting an entire branch. Nevertheless, the survey evidence suggests that the scheme has made some contribution to retaining/attracting residents to the area.
5.18. There appears to have been limited impact of increased spending in local businesses. Although over half of respondents living in the Larkhall area and a third of respondents living in the Kelvindale area claim to spend more money as a result of the rail project, the majority stated this was in non-local locations such as central Glasgow. These residents have therefore benefitted by having a greater choice of leisure and shopping locations. Non-local businesses will also have benefitted through increase in trade (although local businesses may have seen some loss). This is an example of an inter-area or 'two-way street' impact in which the rail project has enhanced economic interactions between two areas.
5.19. In the Business Survey, businesses that had opened a new branch or relocated to either Larkhall or Kelvindale since the completion of the Larkhall – Milngavie project were asked whether the rail improvements had influenced their decision. Only one of the two survey respondents who had moved to Larkhall since 2005 (there were none to Kelvindale) stated the rail project as a factor in their decision. This is in line with the data from South Lanarkshire Council and suggests that there is insufficient evidence to conclude whether the project has increased inward investment and land development for business purposes.
In the Larkhall area, there is evidence that the rail project has led to land being developed for residential purposes and it is thought to have been a factor in the area being classed as a Community Growth Area which will in time lead to a significant increase in new housing in the area.
The User Survey results suggests that the project has made some contribution to the objective by making these places more attractive places to live.
Although there is no evidence of significant new business investments in the areas impacted by the rail project, these are long-term decisions and could take many years to materialise and so the full benefits of the rail project may yet to be realised.
5.20. Project objective 5 was 'to offer social inclusion benefits for residents'.
5.21. To assess whether this objective has been met, the extent to which the rail improvements have promoted social inclusion by connecting people to employment opportunities, social networks, education and leisure activities, thus allowing disadvantaged people access to opportunities that most people take for granted was assessed.
User Survey Results – Journey Purpose
5.22. User Survey respondents' journey purpose and destination were analysed to assess whether the Larkhall – Milngavie project has provided a valuable link to employment, education and leisure opportunities.
5.23. Weighted according to frequency of travel information, respondents' journey purpose by origin station is shown Table 2. Of all journeys (n=309), 64% were for commuting (including access to higher/further education), 26% for leisure and 10% for business. As shown in Table 2 below, these proportions are broadly similar to the national average pattern of travel demand purposes.
|1: Hamilton – Larkhall reopening (n=182)||61%||9%||31%|
|2: Maryhill – Anniesland reopening (n=36)||52%||16%||32%|
|3: Enhanced frequency Newton – Hamilton (n=64)||80%||6%||14%|
|4: Enhanced frequency Milngavie branch (n=27)||55%||16%||29%|
|All respondents (n=309)||64%||10%||26%|
5.24. The distribution of purposes shows that passengers on the Larkhall – Milngavie line use it to access a range of opportunities and facilities in the surrounding areas. In particular, the new stations have provided a valuable link to employment and education with 61% of those surveyed on the reopened Larkhall section and 52% on the reopened Maryhill – Anniesland section using it for commuter purposes including access to education and training.
User Survey Results – Availability of Public Transport
5.25. One of the key criteria in achieving social inclusion is improving the availability of public transport, ensuring that is within easy reach of where people live and preferably within walking distance so that those who do not drive and/or who are infirm are not disadvantaged.
5.26. The User Survey data was assessed to determine how the reopening of Larkhall, Merryton, Chatelherault and Kelvindale stations has made public transport more available by calculating how much nearer the new stations are 'as the crow flies' to a respondent's home address than the nearest station before 2005. It is important to note that actual distances travelled by walking or driving will be slightly higher than the 'crow fly' distances reported here.
5.27. Prior to the reopening of Scheme 1 (Hamilton – Larkhall), the nearest station for those residents now using Larkhall, Merryton or Chatelherault would most likely have been Hamilton Central. The median 'crow fly' distance from respondents' homes to Hamilton Central is 6.4km (n=77). The home location of these 77 respondents is illustrated in Figure 2.
5.28. The median distance from respondents' homes to their nearest station is now just 0.7km (see Figure 2 for details) and hence these stations are now within easy walking distance for the majority of respondents living in these area.
5.29. As a result, walking is the station access mode for 63% of journeys made from these three stations, with just 23% of trips driving to the station and a further 4% travelling to the station as a car passenger.
5.30. For Scheme 2 (Maryhill – Anniesland reopening), the nearest pre-2005 station for Kelvindale residents would most likely have been either Maryhill or Anniesland. The pre-2005 median10 'crow fly' distance from respondents' homes to their closest station (either Maryhill or Anniesland) is 0.64km (n=10). The median distance from respondents' homes to Kelvindale is now just 0.36km (see Figure 3 for details). Whilst this is less than the step-change seen in the Larkhall area, the reopening of the station has still nearly halved the median distance from the Kelvindale respondents' homes to their nearest railway station, with the improvement in actual rather than "crow fly" distances likely to be greater given the canal and road layout.
5.31. To demonstrate how public transport journey times have changed as a result of the Larkhall – Milngavie project, accessibility analysis was undertaken to assess the impact on journey times between the Larkhall and Hamilton areas and Glasgow Central Station.
5.32. The analysis was undertaken using TRACC, a multi-modal transport accessibility software tool. This is designed to generate travel times by public transport and highway modes to give accurate journey times from many origins to many destinations in one calculation.
5.33. Table 3 lists the input data sources that were used in the analysis.
5.34. The public transport (rail, bus and coach) journey time from each postcode centroid within the Larkhall and Hamilton areas to Glasgow Central station was calculated. Glasgow Central station was chosen as a proxy for access to central Glasgow employment, education and leisure opportunities.
5.35. Two calculations were performed during the morning peak period (07:00-10:00). The first produced the minimum journey time from each postcode centroid to Glasgow Central Station with the Larkhall-Milngavie extension in place, while the second performed the same calculation without it.
5.36. For each calculation, the minimum journey times produced consist of in-vehicle time and walk times to, from and between stations and stops. In addition, time penalties were applied in order to reflect the change in frequency of services as a result of the Larkhall-Milngavie extension.
5.37. The differences between the two estimated journey times to central Glasgow calculations were used to estimate the change in public transport journey times (see Figure 4 for details).
5.38. As expected, the largest reductions are in the Larkhall area which benefitted from the three new stations and removed the need for passengers to travel to Hamilton to access rail. Here, the journey times to Glasgow Central by public transport have reduced typically by between 10 and 20 minutes. For postcodes within the immediate vicinity of Merryton and Larkhall stations, the reduction is in excess of 20 minutes. Unsurprisingly, the reduction in the Hamilton area is less (typically between 0 and 10 minutes) as the two Hamilton stations benefited merely from the service frequency enhancements.
5.39. Table 4 shows the impact of the reduced public transport journey times by proportion of population in the areas assessed. This shows that for 60% of the population in this area, public transport journey times to Glasgow Central have reduced by at least 10 minutes.
|PT Journey Time to Glasgow Central Reduction||0||< 5||5 - 10||10 - 15||15 - 20||> 20|
5.40. The rail project has therefore reduced public transport journey times to Glasgow Central for the majority of the Larkhall and Hamilton population. This will have promoted social inclusion for local residents, particularly those without a car, and made employment, education and leisure opportunities more accessible.
5.41. A separate accessibility was not undertaken for Kelvindale as it is likely the impact will have been less considering the proximity of the existing stations (Anniesland and Maryhill) before the new station was opened. It is expected though that public transport journey times from Kelvindale will also have been reduced, but to a lesser extent than from Larkhall and Hamilton.
The survey data suggests that the project has contributed to the objective 'Offer social inclusion benefits to residents' by:
- promoting access to a range of opportunities and facilities in the surrounding areas, in particular employment and education opportunities with 64% of respondents using the line for commuting purposes;
- improving the availability of public transport through the re-opening of stations. This is particularly true for Larkhall residents where the nearest station is now within walking distance for the majority of residents, whereas previously their nearest station was over 6km away on average and therefore only accessible by car or bus; and
- providing a reduction in public transport journey times therefore promoting accessibility to employment, education and leisure opportunities and promoting social inclusion.
5.42. Project objective 6 was 'to encourage a modal shift towards public transport'.
5.43. To assess whether this objective has been met, User Survey respondents were asked questions to understand how changes to rail services since completion of the Larkhall-Milngavie rail project have affected their travel behaviour. Respondents were also asked whether the rail improvements have influenced their car ownership.
User Survey Results – Use of Rail
5.44. In general, the Larkhall – Milngavie project appears to have increased users' frequency of rail use over the last 5 years, with 50% of respondents using rail much more than in 2009 ( Table 5). Unsurprisingly, the greatest change has been on the Hamilton-Larkhall line which was reconnected to the network; here 66% of respondents reported using rail 'much more' than in 2009. There has also been an increase in rail usage from the stations where there has been a frequency improvement (schemes 3 and 4).
5.45. For the two schemes involving the reopening of new stations (Scheme 1 and 2), nearly all respondents who have travelled to or from these stations stated that the station re-openings have affected their travel plans (94% for those whose home station is Larkhall, Merryton or Chatelherault, and 91% for those whose home station is Kelvindale).
5.46. Respondents were also asked how many more rail trips they make as a result of the new stations. The responses are summarised in Table 6. For those travelling to/from Larkhall, Merryton and Chatelherault, 28% reported using the new station(s) 5 or more times a week, with a further 26% using them at least once a week. At Kelvindale, half of those travelling to/from the station reported using it at least 5 times a week. This indicates the new stations are being used on regular basis (e.g. for commuting).
5.47. Whilst a proportion of these trips will have been generated (i.e. the trip would not previously have been made), it is a likely that some of these trips have been abstracted from car. The level of car abstraction is analysed below.
User Survey Results – Level of Abstraction from Other Modes
5.48. To deduce how the User Survey respondents would have travelled in the absence of the project (i.e. the counterfactual), they were asked how they would travel for their most frequent journeys under the following circumstances:
- users of the four new stations (Larkhall, Merryton, Chatelherault and Kelvindale) were asked how they would travel in the future if rail was not available from their nearest station; and
- users of other stations which benefitted from a frequency improvement were asked how they would travel in the future if the current train service frequency was reduced.
5.49. In general, the project appears to have encouraged greater use of public transport, with the most significant impact being from the re-opening of the Hamilton – Larkhall railway line (Scheme 1).
5.50. For those journeys by rail to or from the three re-opened stations (n=201) relating to Scheme 1 (Larkhall, Merryton and Chatelherault), 43% of journeys would be made by car if the three new stations were unavailable. A further 26% would be made by bus and 5% as a car passenger. The remaining journeys would either not be made at all (13%), the respondent would travel to a different location to board the train (e.g. Hamilton (8%)) or the respondent was not sure how they would travel (4%).
5.51. Figure 5 below shows the breakdown of these journeys by Commuting (n=65) and Other (n=136). This suggests that the proportion switching to car (driver and passenger) would be higher for commuting journeys than for other journey purposes (55% for commuting compared to 44% for other), though sample sizes are small and this difference is not statistically significant at the 95% confidence level.
5.52. For the other scheme involving the re-opening of a station (Scheme 2: Reopening of the Maryhill – Anniesland railway line; n=36), nearly two-thirds of journeys would be made by other modes if the station was not available ( Figure 6). 36% would be made by bus perhaps reflecting the good bus network in the area and/or lower levels of local car ownership. Due to the small sample size for this scheme, results are presented combined for all journey purposes.
5.53. For the schemes involving a frequency enhancement rather than station re-opening, the shift to other modes would unsurprisingly be a lot lower:
- Scheme 3 – Enhanced frequency of service on the Newton – Hamilton line; n=74 ( Figure 7):
- over two-thirds of journeys made by rail to/from Hamilton Central, Hamilton West and Blantyre would still be made by rail if the frequency was lower, although 20% would be made by rail less frequently;
- 9% of journeys would be made by other modes (split between car and bus).
- Scheme 4 – Enhanced frequency of service on the Milngavie branch; n=34 ( Figure 8)
- over 60% of journeys made by rail to/from Milngavie, Hillfoot, Bearsden and Westerton would still be made by rail if the frequency was lower;
- 24% of journeys would be made by other modes (split between car and bus).
5.54. The results presented above indicate stated preference (i.e. what respondents would do in the future), rather than revealed preference (i.e. what they actually did when the rail improvements were implemented in 2005). However, for the purposes of this exercise, it was reasonable to assume that they are equivalent. The results were therefore used to deduce the levels of abstraction from other modes so for example, for Scheme 1 a 75% abstraction rate is implied (43% car driver, 27% bus and 5% car passenger).
Impact on Car Ownership
5.55. User Survey respondents were also asked whether the changes to local rail services have impacted the number of vehicles owned in their household as a result of the rail improvements ( Table 7). Overall, the majority (87%, n=143) stated that there had been no impact. There is some variation by scheme (with respondents allocated to scheme according to their home station), perhaps reflecting the different nature of the four scheme components.
5.56. The number of respondents reporting a reduction in household vehicles consistently outweighs those reporting an increase so, from the User Survey results, it appears that there has been a small net decrease in household car ownership as a result of the rail improvements.
The survey data suggests that the project has contributed to the objective 'encourage a mode shift towards public transport':
- evidence suggests that there has been an abstraction of trips from car and bus, with the impact most pronounced in the Larkhall area where approximately half of journeys made to or from the three re-opened stations would be made by car if it were no longer possible to access rail at the three new stations; and
- there is also evidence of a small net decrease in car ownership as a result of the rail improvements.
5.57. In the absence of 'SMART' objectives or any quantified targets, it is difficult to conclude whether the project as a whole has been a success in terms of boosting public transport patronage or alleviating local transport issues. Nevertheless, the results from the User Survey and Business Survey indicate that the project has made a positive contribution to five of its objectives.
5.58. The findings from the User Survey show that respondents believe that the re-opening of the four stations at Larkhall, Chatelherault, Merryton and Kelvindale has made these areas more attractive as places to live and improved access to employment opportunities. In the long term, this may attract inward investment through the creation of new homes and jobs. Although there was no evidence from the Business Survey of sustained inward investment and land development, these are long-term decisions and could take many years to materialise and so the full benefits of the rail project may yet to be realised.
5.59. The User Survey data also suggests that the re-opening of the four stations and the frequency improvements on the rest of the line have improved the availability of public transport which can promote social inclusion by connecting people to employment opportunities, social networks, education and leisure activities. This is most evident for Larkhall residents where the nearest station is now within walking distance for the majority of residents, whereas previously their nearest station was over 6km away on average and therefore only accessible by car or bus.
5.60. Finally, there is evidence from the survey findings that the rail improvements have encouraged a mode shift towards public transport which has likely resulted in abstraction of trips from road vehicles as well as a small net decrease in car ownership.