Scottish passenger forecasts ‘underestimated’
Passenger demand is being consistently underestimated in Scotland, a recent rail conference heard.
Railfuture, which organised the event, says the figures have been “woefully inadequate”. Rail re-openings have boosted ridership and exceeded passenger forecasts again and again, leading to concern that some schemes have not been developed due to inaccurate predictions in their business cases.
Passenger demand for the Stirling– Alloa line was originally predicted as 85,000 when the business case was developed. This was first revised to 155,000, then 400,000 once the lined opened – which was exceeded by the end of the first year of operation in 2008.
Railfuture conference chairman Jerry Alderson said: “The message that came out of the conference is that we’re really underestimating patronage, and all the openings inScotlandhave proved this. They opened Larkhall Milngavie, and it was a success, they opened Airdrie Bathgate, and it was a success, they opened Stirling Alloa and it was a success. Three out of three.
“Some of the estimates have been woefully inadequate and potentially schemes have not gone ahead because the consultants have underestimated patronage.
“Our own experience backs this up. We travelled from Alloa to Edinburghon Friday night and it was full, standing room only, and our fellow passengers told us this was a regular occurrence. The Stirling-Alloa service is currently hourly and they’re proposing to make it half hourly, to cope with demand.
“We have the evidence of how successful rail re-openings have been inScotlandand how quickly lines they can be built from scratch – not one of them took more than two years to construct after powers had been granted – and there’s no reason why this success can’t be repeated south of the border.”
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