SB Connect Winter 2016

Borders Railway – one year on, and beyond

Politicians, local businesses and Golden Ticket winners celebrated the railway’s first birthday

Well over one million passenger journeys have been made on the Borders Railway since it officially opened 14 months ago, exceeding all expectations.

Councillor David Parker, Leader of Scottish Borders Council, said: “The Borders Railway has been an unparalleled success in its first year of operation, far exceeding the predictions for passenger journey numbers and helping transform the Borders economy.

“We have already seen economic and social benefits as a result of the Borders Railway, including a deal with global IT firm CGI to bring at least 200 new jobs to the Borders.

“The Borders Railway Blueprint programme clearly sets out how Scottish Borders Council and our partners will capitalise on the opportunities presented by the new line. We are committed to working hard with partners to ensure the railway continues to be a success, and delivers benefits to as many people as possible.”

The Council has contributed to a study to look at the feasibility of extending the line beyond Tweedbank, on to Hawick and Carlisle.

Local tourist attractions have seen the benefits of the new line, with Abbotsford House, Sir Walter Scott’s home, recording a 12 per cent increase in visitor numbers. Elsewhere, research by the Moffat Centre has shown that overall visits to Midlothian and Borders tourist attractions increased by 4 per cent and 6.9 per cent over the first seven months of 2016, compared to the same period last year.

The Scottish Government’s Transport Minister Humza Yousaf said: “I am delighted that we are continuing to see the Borders Railway go from strength to strength with over one million passengers using the line during its inaugural year.

“Not only has the railway linked the communities in the Borders and Midlothian with the wider Scottish rail network for the first time in 46 years, but the increased accessibility has breathed new life into the region, boosting tourism and employment opportunities.

“We are now committed to working with ScotRail to strengthen the railway operationally, increasing capacity and delivering a comprehensive programme of refurbishments to rolling stock, which will mean more passengers can travel in greater comfort in the future.”

Phil Verster, ScotRail Alliance Managing Director, added: “The first year of the Borders Railway has been a tremendous success for the communities the line serves – transforming the way people across Midlothian and the Borders travel.

“The new line has brought the Borders closer to the economic and social opportunities of Edinburgh and given visitors to the capital a new way of reaching one of Scotland’s most beautiful and historic regions.

“We are very proud of the popularity of the new line, are striving to continually improve the service we offer on it, and look forward to welcoming even more passengers aboard Borders’ services in the years ahead.”

Dominic Booth, Managing Director, Abellio UK, said: “We are equally as delighted to have been a part of such a landmark transportation improvement to the Borders, as we recognise just how important Scotland’s railway is to the local people, employment, education and tourism, particularly in rural areas.

“As with anything new of this scale, we know there is room to strengthen and grow. We are excited about what lies ahead for the Borders line and are proud to be celebrating the first year, with a positive outlook of improvements and developments to come.”