Publication - FOI/EIR release

The Scottish Borders Railway Line evaluation reports and projections: EIR release

Published: 9 Jan 2020

Information request and response under the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004.

Published:
9 Jan 2020
The Scottish Borders Railway Line evaluation reports and projections: EIR release
FOI reference: FOI/19/02392
Date received: 24 Oct 2019
Date responded: 9 Dec 2019
Information requested

You asked for:

A Scotsman report on the recent AGM of the Campaign for Borders Rail quoted a Transport Scotland spokesperson as saying:

“The Borders Railway has been a phenomenal success as it continues to grow……………..communities along its length”

1. Please provide empirical evidence to support these assertions. 
2. Please indicate which consultant has been appointed to conduct the much touted £10m exploration of the potential extension, the methodology for their selection, and the timescale for completing the study.

Response

As the information you have requested is ‘environmental information’ for the purposes of the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (EIRs), we are required to deal with your request under those Regulations.  We are applying the exemption at section 39(2) of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA), so that we do not also have to deal with your request under FOISA. 

This exemption is subject to the ‘public interest test’.  Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption.  We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption, because there is no public interest in dealing with the same request under two different regimes.  This is essentially a technical point and has no material effect on the outcome of your request.

1. Please provide empirical evidence to support the assertions that the Borders Railway has been a phenomenal success. 

The Borders Railway Final Business Case patronage forecasts for the opening year of the Borders Railway, totalling an estimated 647,136 return journeys annually. 

https://www.transport.gov.scot/media/10321/ts_borders_fbc_final_version_issued.pdf

The Borders Railway Line commenced service on Sunday 6 September 2015, halfway through the rail industry reporting period.

In the first full year of Borders operations (ended mid-October 2016), the line carried 1,419,000 passengers. Before the Borders extension came into service, the line handled 353,000 passengers (that is, from the South Gyle station to Newcraighall; many current Borders users will have driven up to the park-and-ride at that station). So, the new traffic from the line was 1,066,000 passengers. 

  • In Year Two (ended mid-October 2017) the Line carried 1,656,000 passengers, or 1,303,000 “new” passengers.

  • In Year Three (ended mid-October 2018) the line carried 1,784,000 passengers, or 1,431,000 “new” passengers.

  • In Year Four (ended mid-October 2019) the line carried 1,737,000 passengers, or 1,384,000 “new” passengers.

In addition to the above patronage levels I have attached links below to the year 1 and year 2 evaluation reports which provide further evidence of the success of the Borders Railway.

https://www.transport.gov.scot/publication/borders-railway-year-1-evaluation-pdf/
https://www.transport.gov.scot/publication/borders-railway-year-2-evaluation-survey-of-users-and-non-users-february-2018/

Additionally the Borders Railway website is again a source that communicates the success of the Railway and includes case studies. 

The link to the site is http://www.bordersrailway.co.uk/

2. Please indicate which consultant has been appointed to conduct the much touted £10m exploration of the potential extension, the methodology for their selection, and the timescale for completing the study.

I sought clarification from you that the £10 million that you refer to is in relation to the Borderlands Growth Deal Heads of Terms statement that up to £5 million will be made available by each Government through the deal to progress the evidence base, options appraisal and feasibility work on Carlisle to Tweedbank rail options

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not hold the information you have requested.  The reasons why we do not have the information are explained in Annex A.

 Encs:           
1. Borders Final Business Case
2. Borders-railway-year-1-evaluation
3. Borders-railway-year-2-evaluation
4. Borders-transport-corridors-pre-appraisal
5. Publiccontractsscotland.gov.uk/authority/Notice ID=543122
6. Publiccontractsscotland.gov.uk/authority/Notice ID=576516

ANNEX A
REASONS FOR NOT PROVIDING INFORMATION

The Scottish Government does not have the information
Under the terms of the exception at regulation 10(4)(a) of the EIRs (information not held), the Scottish Government is not required to provide information which it does not have.  The Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested as to date we have not commissioned work to be funded by the £5 million available within the Borderlands Growth Deal Heads of Terms statement.  
Scottish Government had commenced work considering future transport investment in the Scottish Borders in 2017 and report can be found here (https://www.transport.gov.scot/publication/borders-transport-corridors-pre-appraisal/)  This is now being taken through the second Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR2), and has been funded by Scottish Government separately the Deal.   The contract was awarded in January 2019, details are available at:

STPR2 Contract Notice:
https://www.publiccontractsscotland.gov.uk/Access/Login.aspx?ReturnUrl=%2fauthority%2fNotice_unPubView.aspx%3fID%3d543122&ID=543122
STPR2 Contract Award Notice:
https://www.publiccontractsscotland.gov.uk/Access/Login.aspx?ReturnUrl=%2fauthority%2fNotice_unPubView.aspx%3fID%3d576516&ID=576516

This exception is subject to the ‘public interest test’.  Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exception.  We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exception. 

While we recognise that there may be some public interest in which consultant has been appointed and the methodology adopted to progress the evidence base, options appraisal and feasibility work on Carlisle to Tweedbank rail options, clearly we cannot provide information which does not exist.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses.

Contact

Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG