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Borders Railway Year 1 Evaluation

United Kingdom
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STRIA Roadmaps
Smart mobility and services (SMO)
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Transport policies
Societal/Economic issues
Transport sectors
Passenger transport



The Borders Railway re-opened on Sunday 6th September 2015.  In line with Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance (STAG) and the Guidance on the Evaluation of Rail Projects, this research provides the Stage 1 Evaluation of the re-opening of the line.  To inform the development of the Stage 1 Evaluation a primary data collection exercise was completed comprising an on-train survey of users of the Borders Railway and a telephone survey of non and one-off users based within the Scottish Borders/Midlothian. In addition, a number of secondary data analysis tasks were undertaken including a review of ticket sales and passenger count data and an analysis of public transport access.  In total, 1,112 responses were received to the User Survey and 227 responses were received to the Non-user Survey.   


  • Passenger numbers are higher than forecast at all the Scottish Borders stations and lower than forecast at all the Midlothian stations.
  • The majority of patronage on the line is outward (i.e. towards Edinburgh) with Tweedbank accounting for the biggest component of demand and Edinburgh Waverley the most frequent destination.
  • Commuting is the most common journey purpose. There were also a considerable number of trips to education and large volumes of leisure users. Overall, 39% of respondents to the user survey indicated the purpose of their trip was either a tourist day trip or overnight stay. Of these, 34% were traveling to the Scottish Borders / Midlothian. 
  • Based on the frequency with which respondents indicated they made their current trip, it is calculated that approximately 50,000 (36%) of the estimated annual single trips recorded via the sample were ‘new trips’.
  • The re-opening of the Borders Railway has resulted in a significant modal shift from the car to public transport, with 57% of users who previously made their trip by another mode stating that they drove all the way to their destination equating to an estimated 40,000 saved car journeys. 
  • There has also been a shift from bus to rail with 29% of those users who made their trip by another mode stating that they previously made their current journey by bus (equivalent to 22,000 bus journeys). 
  • While the re-opening of the railway has resulted in improvements in access between the stations, there have been changes in the bus network which may have resulted in declines in accessibility elsewhere. 
  • There is evidence that the Borders Railway has affected peoples’ residential choices and choice of workplace, with over 50% of users who had moved house and over 80% of those who moved employment since the line re-opened stating that the railway was a factor in their decision. 
  • Similarly, more than 65% of tourist users stated that the re-opening of the railway was a factor in their decision to make their trip and 23% stated that they wouldn’t have made their trip were it not for the rail line.



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