A Department for Transport and Transport Scotland commissioned report by Steer Davis Gleave has revealed major problems in forecasting demand for new rail stations.
It found that actaul demand for stations was rarely within 20% of that forecast. Steer Davis Gleave examined 23 stations opened since rail privatisation and found that actaul demand was within 20% of forecast demand in just nine cases.
The consultant’s report to government said that its comparison of observed and forecast demand showed that a “significant proportion” of forecasts werre within 20% of observed demand, and that there was no obvious tendency to over-forecasting or under-forecasting. But the figures are a concern, with the business case of major schemes such as High Speed 2 heavily reliant on forecast demand.
Steer Davis Gleeve found that station with the greatest different between forecast and actual demand is Ebbw Vale Parkway, where the actual demand in 2008/9 was 252,000 passenger journeys compared to 46,000 forecast.
But Newcraighall station was built expecting 467,600 passengers per year, but has only handled 176,975, 62% less than planned.
The consultant said that for a number of stations, and Alloa, Edinburgh Park and Newcraighall in particular, there was insufficient information available on how the forecasts had been prepared and that a more standardised approach was needed.