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Borders Railway Tourism Train Experience Project
 

Introduction

Borders Railway

The Borders Railway, connecting Edinburgh Waverley with Tweedbank and eight stations in between
 (Brunstane, Newcraighall, Shawfair, Eskbank, Newtongrange, Gorebridge, Stow, Galashiels), opens in September 2015. It aims to maximise the economic benefits of better transport connectivity across Midlothian and the Scottish Borders. 

By 2016, it is anticipated that the Borders Railway will be delivering an annual capacity for 1.9 million return journeys. The Railway also offers a major opportunity to become part of the tourist experience in its own right.

Tourism is a key economic driver for Edinburgh, Midlothian and the Scottish Borders. The tourism sector not only supports 6,000 jobs in the Borders region, it helps to put the area and Scotland on the world stage.

In 2013, approximately 4.3 million people visited Edinburgh, the Lothians (including Midlothian) and the Scottish Borders, spending £1.3 billion. Edinburgh accounts for more than 80% of this expenditure and the Borders Railway will inspire these visitors to spend more time in Midlothian and the Scottish Borders.

The ‘Borders Railway Maximising the Impact: A Blueprint for the Future’[1] was launched on November 17th 2014 with the objective to maximise the economic benefits of better transport connectivity across Midlothian and the Scottish Borders. A series of blueprint projects under the themes of Great Places for Working & Investing, Great Communities for Living & Learning and Great Destinations to Visit are being developed and delivered by cross-organisational project teams.

The Blueprint includes several tourism projects and is designed to drive up tourism all along the line, enhance the visitor experience and empower tourism businesses to take advantage of railway-connected opportunities.

Some of the tourism projects include::

  • Borders Railway Tourism Development Programme
  • Tourism Destination Audit – of assets and gaps, covering attractions, accommodation, infrastructure, accessibility etc, to highlight opportunities for investment to build the tourism offer
  • Hop-on/ off bus service & tour operator services – development of feasibilities/ pilots connecting visitors arriving at new stations to tourist attractions
  • Marketing – a comprehensive VisitScotland three year programme aimed at boosting tourist traffic all along the line
  • Opportunities for occasional Borders Railway steam trains to attract visitors

Our task over the next few weeks is to draw upon our desk and market research and discussions with consultees, case studies and lessons learnt and prepare a market assessment on the potential demand / opportunities for a Borders Railway Tourism Train Experience[2] and if so, what kind of experience will maximise the tourism/ economic opportunity.

If you would like to contribute to this project please contact:  Stewart Walker, BTS, 0131 625 7040 e:stewart@bts-solutions.com or follow this link to complete our BTS Projects Contact Form.

[1]http://www.scottish-enterprise.presscentre.com/imagelibrary/downloadmedia.ashx?MediaDetailsID=1455&SizeId=-1
[2] covering charter steam or heritage diesel trains, as well as tourism experiences/ themed coaches on regular passenger services

 

Our Brief 

To assess the potential market for a Borders Railway Tourism Train Experience through reference to:

  1. Experiences of existing tourism train experiences elsewhere
  2. The scale and nature of the Edinburgh and Borders tourism markets

In more detail the objectives of our research and analytical programme are:

  1. To identify lessons for the Scottish Borders Railway tourism train experience from elsewhere, ensuring these are catalogued from a sound research and consultative base;
  2. Evaluate both charter and schedule passenger routes and services, identifying the parameters and opportunities for the Borders route and how economic impact can be maximised;
  3. Review on-board and off-train services, how these can be enhanced and how they contribute to the quality of the visitor experience and maximisation of economic impact; 
  4. Assess the Edinburgh tourism market, with a realistic penetration analysis (or analyses against different scenarios) and estimate the potential appeal and value of the Borders Railway tourism train experience market;
  5. Consider how tourism assets along the Borders Railway line can help both attract people and benefit from the railway. Assets might include e.g. Dalkeith Country Park - under re-development into a significant outdoor visitor attraction - National Mining Museum Scotland, Melrose, Abbotsford and the Great Tapestry of Scotland, as well as smaller tourism and hospitality operators.
  6. Determine how a Borders Railway tourism train experience can be developed and packaged to enhance numbers and economic value.


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