Off track

Lawrence Marshall (Letters, 9 January) expects the Borders Railway to emulate the success of the Airdrie-Bathgate link in terms of patronage.

I have noted that most trains on this link are about 90 per cent empty, so I am unclear as to what percentage load factor he regards as a “success”.

It would be interesting to see an objective analysis of the costs and benefits of this project and just who has gained from it.

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I think it probable that the money spent could have been far better used in other ways and the opportunity costs were not addressed. Audit Scotland has said that these have not been adequately considered in approving major projects, including the Borders Railway.

Mr Lawrence offers no reason to assume that the low passenger volumes predicted for the longest part of the route (south of Newtongrange) will be greatly exceeded. Real income levels are expected to fall, while rail fares will increase.

The percentage of elderly persons, who have bus passes, will grow. Probably only a tiny percentage of Borders residents and those who are relatively well-off will frequently use the service, with permanent high levels of public subsidy.

Comparisons to the Alloa and Larkhall extensions are invalid. These are in areas of very high population and involve journeys of about ten minutes.

John Munro

Bucclech Street