Over a million passenger journeys have been made on the Borders Railway since it officially opened 12 months ago today (September 9).
The new figure was announced by Transport Minister Humza Yousaf and ScotRail Alliance managing director Phil Verster at a special event at Edinburgh Waverley this morning to mark the line’s first birthday.
Borders, which is the longest new line built in the UK for over a century, was officially opened by Her Majesty the Queen on Wednesday, September 9, 2015.
Mr Yousaf and ScotRail Alliance staff were joined by passengers and local businesses from along the line of route to celebrate the positive economic and social impact the new railway has had on Midlothian and the Borders.
Over its first 12 months the new railway’s 21,000 train services have carried its first million passengers on a combined 35 million miles. Verified passenger numbers for the first year of operation are not yet available, but they are expected to exceed the forecasts made in the original business case.
Local tourist attractions are also starting to see the benefits of the new line with Abbotsford House, Sir Walter Scott’s home, recording a 12% increase in visitor numbers this year. Elsewhere, research by the Moffat Centre has shown that overall visits to Midlothian and Borders tourist attractions increased by 4% and 6.9% over the first seven months of 2016, compared to the same period last year.
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.”
Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland, said:
“A year ago, the world’s media descended on the Borders Railway to cover the momentous re-opening of this historic route. Since then, the 30 mile route has provided a huge boost for Scottish tourism, increasing visitor numbers, creating jobs and sustaining communities. It has also helped to shine a spotlight on the Scottish Borders, Midlothian and Edinburgh, making it easier than ever before for visitors to explore the wealth of attractions these regions have to offer.
“We will continue to build on this success through our global marketing campaign, the Spirit of Scotland, while working with businesses to ensure they make the most of the continuing opportunities presented by the Borders Railway.”
The reopening of the Borders Railway re-established services from Edinburgh through Midlothian to Tweedbank for the first time in over four decades.
The project, which was completed on-time and to-budget, included constructing 30 miles of new railway and seven new stations – at Shawfair, Eskbank, Newtongrange, Gorebridge, Stow, Galashiels and Tweedbank
Such is the demand to travel on the line, more seats will be introduced on peak services next year along with plans to introduce longer trains on more services from 2018 – providing significant, longer term increases in capacity.
This is in addition to a significant investment in the rolling stock to deliver enhancements worth over £14 million to the trains over the next two years including fitting power sockets, flooring, lighting, painting, re-livery and wheelchair spaces.
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Notes to Editors
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- 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
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- Inclusive Tourism: we will strive to make tourism in Scotland inclusive and available to all
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- 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.
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2016 Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design
- 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 started on 1 January 2016 and will end on 31 December 2016.It 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 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 is supported by £570,000 of Scottish Government funding.
- The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design events fund is managed by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.
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