The Borders Railway Blueprint partnership, which seeks to maximise economic benefits from the new Borders Railway, today welcomed the Scottish Government announcement that passenger numbers have exceeded original estimates by almost a quarter in the first six months.
From opening last September through to the end of March this year, there have been 694,373 trips on Borders Railway, representing an increase of 22 per cent on projected figures prior to opening.It is estimated that passenger trips will be maintained at 21 per cent over expectations through to the end of the first year of operation.
The Blueprint partnership is chaired by Scottish Enterprise, and includes Transport Scotland, VisitScotland, Scottish Government and the three local authority areas on the route - Scottish Borders, Midlothian and City of Edinburgh - as well as Abellio ScotRail.
Danny Cusick, Senior Director for Textiles, Tourism, and Food & Drink at Scottish Enterprise and Chair of the Borders Railway Blueprint Leaders Group said: “With 126,350 trips more than anticipated in the first six months, it’s clear that there is demand for the new railway, even before the Blueprint partnership’s first phase of developments have been fully implemented.
“As part of these developments, the railway will open up new business and investment opportunities, connecting planned housing and mixed-use projects, business and industrial parks, and new visitor attractions.
“The recent announcement by global IT company CGI to locate a digital centre of excellence in the Scottish Borders which has the potential to create up to 200 new jobs is an encouraging early example of a significant investment decision linked to Borders Railway.”
Statements from Blueprint partnership members
Scottish Borders Council
One of the biggest success stories for the new railway has been at Galashiels, Tweedbank and Stow, the Scottish Borders stations, where demand has exceed expectations by seven times.
Councillor David Parker, Leader of Scottish Borders Council,said: “These are exciting times for the Scottish Borders with passenger numbers for the first six months highlighting the potential to create transformational change. The Central Borders Business Park and major visitor attraction for the Great Tapestry of Scotland are just two of the developments which will capitalise on this to encourage further growth.
“The passenger figures also provide a boost to the business case for extending the line to Carlisle and they will be considered carefully as part of the scoping exercise that is being commissioned.”
City of Edinburgh Council
Cllr Andrew Burns, Leader of the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “These passenger figures illustrate the benefit of the new Borders Railway. A significant number of people are using the railway to travel into Edinburgh for work and to enjoy everything our fantastic city has to offer, while it is also helping to boost the wider region’s tourism offer.”
Midlothian Council’s cabinet member for economic development, Councillor Jim Bryant said: “We welcome the six month figures. Exceeding projected passenger numbers by 22% is great news for the line as a whole and is a real indication of the fantastic economic benefits the railway can deliver if we continue to work with our Borders Railway Blueprint partnership agencies.
“We are confident Midlothian passenger numbers will increase. For example, further demand will be created by the new town of Shawfair, which is being built from scratch in Midlothian and represents the biggest urban expansion in Scotland in modern times. The first 120 homes of 4,000 are due to become available this winter.
“Indeed, we are already seeing the potential economic benefits of the four new stations. More people are moving to the county. The latest figures by the Registers of Scotland, published in April, show Midlothian had the biggest increase in house sales (up 48%) in the final quarter of 2015/2016.
“Borders Railway is also already unlocking private sector investment in Midlothian. We have ambitious plans to regenerate town centres, attract new companies to set up businesses here and improve cycling and walking routes.”
Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland said:“These are very encouraging figures for the first six months of the Borders Railway, particularly considering they cover a time of year that is traditionally seen as off season for visitors.
“Our marketing activity is being increased to target more visitors from UK and international markets, encouraging them to visit Midlothian and the Scottish Borders as part of their Edinburgh experience this summer and beyond.
“The re-establishment of the Borders Railway line demonstrates the growing tourism potential in the southeast and illustrates that tourism is more than a holiday experience – it creates jobs and sustains communities in every corner of Scotland and is at the heart of the Scottish economy.”
Phil Verster, managing director of the ScotRail Alliance, said: “We are incredibly proud to operate services on the Borders Railway – a route which, as the numbers show, is hugely popular with our customers.
“The extremely positive first six months is a wonderful start, and gives us a solid foundation on which to continue to attract new visitors to and from the Borders. We are committed to ensuring the lasting legacy of the Borders Railway.
“It’s clear that the success of the line has been a catalyst for other communities to champion their own rail links and we are working closely with partners to encourage and support economic growth across Scotland.
“We have recently appointed a Borders Railway Programme Executive who is already working closely with the Blueprint Partnership to ensure the lasting legacy of the new line by encouraging and supporting economic growth throughout the regions the railway touches.”
- ENDS -
Notes to Editors
- Follow us on twitter: @visitscotnews
- VisitScotland is Scotland’s national tourism organisation. Its core purpose is to maximise the economic benefit of tourism to Scotland.
- The organisation’s core objective is to contribute to the Tourism 2020 Strategy ambition of growing tourism revenues by £1 billion by 2020.
- This will be supported by seven overarching strategies:
- Marketing: we will market Scotland and its outstanding assets to visitors from all parts of the world, including the promotion of Scotland to people living in Scotland to visit different parts of the country
- Events: we will support the national events strategy and its delivery, and sustain, develop and promote Scotland’s international profile as one of the world’s foremost events destinations
- Internationalisation and International Engagement: we will utilise all our platforms to enable Scottish-based tourism businesses to better understand international opportunities and market to a global audience and we will work within One Scotland Partnerships to optimise the potential of Scotland’s Diaspora and our strategic partners at regional, European and global levels
- Customer Experience: we will provide information and inspiration to visitors both locally and globally via their preferred medium of choice
- Quality and Sustainability: we will provide support and advice to businesses, with the goal of improving the quality and sustainability of the tourism sector in Scotland. We will provide quality assurance to visitors through our Quality Schemes
- Inclusive Tourism: we will strive to make tourism in Scotland inclusive and available to all
- Working in Partnership: we will listen to and work with the industry, partners and communities to shape our offering and support
- VisitScotland works together with tourism businesses to make tourism a success for everyone and ensure the industry continues to grow.
- The organisation employs 700 people and has offices and VisitScotland Information Centres across Scotland.
- Spending by tourists in Scotland generates around £12 billion of economic activity in the wider Scottish supply chain and contributes around £6 billion to Scottish GDP (in basic prices). This represents about 5% of total Scottish GDP.
- The Scottish Government is the Managing Authority for the European Structural Funds 2014-20 Programme. For further information visit www.gov.scot or follow @scotgovESIF
- For VisitScotland’s press releases go to http://www.visitscotland.org/media_centre.aspx, tourism statistics and frequently asked questions go to http://www.visitscotland.org/
- Where possible, a Gaelic speaker will be made available for broadcast interviews on request (Far an tèid iarraidh, agus far am bheil sin nar comas, bruidhinnidh neach le Gàidhlig aig agallamh)
- For holiday information on Scotland go to www.visitscotland.com
- For information about business events in Scotland go to www.conventionscotland.com
Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016
- 2016 will shine a spotlight on Scotland’s achievements in innovation, architecture and design through a wide-ranging, variety of new and existing activity.
- The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design begins on 1 January 2016 and ends on 31 December 2016 and will build on the momentum generated by the 2015 Year of Food and Drink as well as previous years including Homecoming Scotland 2014, the Year of Creative and the Year of Natural.
- Through a series of exciting events and activity, the year will showcase Scotland’s position as an “innovation nation”, its outstanding built heritage, and its thriving, internationally acclaimed creative industries sector.
- The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design is a Scottish Government initiative being led by VisitScotland, and supported by a variety of partners including Scottish Government, Creative Scotland, Architecture + Design Scotland, Scottish Tourism Alliance, Scottish Enterprise, The National Trust for Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS).
- The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design events fund is managed by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.
- Join the conversation at #IAD2016
- Events can join the 2016 Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design Partner Programme throughout the year by visiting http://www.eventscotland.org/YIAD_partner_programme
The Blueprint vision sees Borders Railway acting as a catalyst to stimulate economic growth.
An inward investment prospectus has been published promoting site-specific developments in housing, commercial and leisure sectors. These create major opportunities for existing and new businessesto take advantage of growing markets and new connectivity to and from Edinburgh city centre.
There are also inward investment incentives through the new assisted area location in the Railway corridor.
Supporting the Blueprint, The Scottish Government has made a commitment to invest £10 million.
An additional 57,000 jobs are forecast for Edinburgh City Region and 37,200 jobs forecast to be created in the Borders Railway area by 2030.
Borders Railway Blueprint –www.bordersrailway.co.uk
Borders Railway inward investment prospectus –www.bordersrailwayprospectus.com