By Phil Marsh

Transport Scotland study confirms that rail brings huge boost for Scottish economy

Published: 24th March 2016

Customers also gain up to £1bn benefit

The economy of Scotland gains up to £670 million a year thanks to the railways, according to a new report.

The report highlights benefits that the railway industry delivers to Scotland. Railway passengers and freight customers gain up to £1 billion annually in user-benefits in Scotland, the report also finds, it was announced this month.

Almost 13,000 jobs are supported directly or through the supply chain in Scotland, the report into the wider role of rail finds. It adds that up 89 fatal and serious accidents are prevented every year thanks to rail’s contribution in reducing traffic on Scottish roads.

Unfortunately in news terms the report tended to be overshadowed by confirmation that the Scottish National Party intends to reduce Air Passenger Duty for flights from Scottish airports if it is re-elected to power in the Scottish Parliament election on 5 May.

The Scottish Government’s agency Transport Scotland announced the results of the study by Oxera Consulting for the agency and the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which covers train operators and Network Rail.

In a statement, the agency claims that the study confirms rail’s economic, social and environmental benefits for the first time. The statement adds that rail benefits include:

£668m Gross Value Added (GVA) contribution to the Scottish economy;

User-benefits of up to £1 billion per year;

12,800 jobs supported;

£292m - tax paid by the rail sector to Scotland’s public purse.

The statement adds that £30 million is the annual value of reduced greenhouse gas emissions thanks to rail and that there are up to £652 million of other positive impacts including boosts to economic productivity, enhancements for business and reduced road congestion.

Paul Plummer, the chief executive of the RDG, said: "Rail is of huge value to Scotland’s economic, social and environmental wellbeing. The railway and its supply chain are vitally important to every household in Scotland, linking people with jobs, paying taxes which help fund public services and increasing economic output.”

Mr Plummer added that money is being spent on new trains, better stations and improved journeys although “there is more to do to improve Scotland’s rail services”.

Derek Mackay MSP, Scotland’s Minister for Transport and Islands, said: “Overall, the key findings are very encouraging and reveal the extent to which our railways not only foster economic growth but support jobs both directly and through many local supply chains.”

Mr Mackay added: “These results also confirm what we have already witnessed through the delivery of major rail projects in recent years, including the Borders Railway that is now revitalising the economies of the Borders and Midlothian region and beyond.

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