Borders Railway's pulling power flagged up by report
A report has claimed the Borders Railway is attracting new workers, homeowners and tourists to communities near the line.
The independent study found it had been a "major factor" in decisions to relocate to the area.
It also found many visitors would not have made their trip without the line.
The results were discussed at the Scottish Transport Summit in Glasgow during talks on the role of transport in boosting the economy.
Among the report's key findings were:
- 50% of users who had moved house and over 80% of those who moved employment since the reopening of the line stated that the railway had been a factor in their decision
- more than 65% of tourist users stated that the rail line was a factor in their decision to make their trip and 23% stated that they would not have made the trip were it not for the line
- more than 90% of respondents agreed that the railway promoted access between the Scottish Borders/Midlothian and Edinburgh
- passenger numbers were higher than forecast at all Scottish Borders stations and lower than forecast at all Midlothian stations
- it is estimated to have saved 40,000 car journeys annually
- the most popular improvement requested was lower fares
- users were least satisfied with the availability of staff, facilities and services at stations
The report, commissioned by Transport Scotland and the Borders Railway Blueprint Group, was carried out by Peter Brett Associates with the aim of evaluating the project's success a year on from its reopening.
It also examined the impact the line has had on visitor numbers, passenger views of service quality and real and perceived barriers to use for those not using the service.
- Transport Minister Humza Yousaf said: "This independent report provides solid evidence that the communities along the line are beginning to feel the benefit of our investment. The route's popularity was already undisputed and we will continue to work with all the blueprint group members to ensure that it continues to act as a catalyst for further social and economic regeneration."
- Danny Cusick, of Scottish Enterprise who chair the Borders Railway Blueprint Group, said: "We are determined to build on this success further in coming years to establish the Borders Railway region as an excellent location for business, living, leisure and learning."
- Mark Rowley, of Scottish Borders Council, said: "This report is further proof that the railway is having a hugely positive impact on the Borders. The study shows the railway was a key factor for many tourists choosing to visit the Borders, while more local people are using the service than predicted for work, leisure and education."
- VisitScotland Chief Executive Malcolm Roughead said: "The fact that nearly a quarter of tourists surveyed said they wouldn't have visited the Scottish Borders if the line hadn't re-opened demonstrates exactly why the Borders Railway has been such great news for tourism. "