The Borders Railway is an excellent example of the role that transport has to play in protecting and improving our communities. The reopening in September 2016, which saw the longest domestic railway built in Britain in more than a century, is a huge opportunity for the Scottish Borders, Midlothian and Edinburgh.
Effective transport links are something that we can all take for granted. Like many things in life, when they are working well we don’t even notice they’re there. So it can easy to overlook how fundamental road, rail, sea and air links are to so many aspects of our country’s well-being, whether that’s in accessing education opportunities, supporting business growth or simply connecting with our friends and family.
We’ve already seen some excellent early signs of the impact the Borders Railway is having. More than 1.3 million passengers used the service in its first year, Borders College reported an increase in applications for its courses [add link to story], and there were some outstanding results from a study into how it had benefited tourism in the region [add link to story].
Now, a new report [add link] has given further encouragement that the line is meeting its objectives of promoting accessibility, boosting social inclusion, encouraging more sustainable transport and reversing the decline in the Scottish Borders population by providing easier access to Edinburgh’s job market.
The independent economic analysis study, commissioned by Transport Scotland and the Borders Railway Blueprint Group, surveyed people along the catchment of the line, including both those who use it and those who don’t. The aim was to find out what they think about how the railway is performing, how their travel and lifestyle has changed since before the Railway, and what could be done to improve the service.
Among the key findings are that the railway is improving access to work and education, has saved around 40,000 car journeys in the first year, encouraging people to make journeys they wouldn’t otherwise have done, especially among tourists.
However, there is a lot more work to do. Any regeneration project on this scale takes years to fulfill its potential. That’s why the Blueprint Group, consisting of local and national organisations, is working to promote the benefits of living, working, studying and investing in communities all along the line.
I look forward to seeing how its efforts continue to support our ambition of breathing new life in to the region through the vital connections provided by the Borders Railway.
By Transport minister Humza Yousaf