Five SNP General Election candidates standing in the North East have today voiced their collective support for a Buchan Railway development, citing the successes of the Borders Railway which rolled out in September 2015.
As part of continued improvements to infrastructure in the North East, SNP candidates are also continuing to back improvements and upgrades for the A90 north of Ellon, including at the Toll of Birness junction.
Both road and rail improvements are currently part of a study by NESTRANS which will report on options in the near future.
Stuart Donaldson (candidate for Aberdeenshire West), Kirsty Blackman (candidate for Aberdeen North), Callum McCaig (candidate for Aberdeen City), Eilidh Whiteford (candidate for Banff & Buchan) and Alex Salmond (candidate for Gordon), announced their support as 'Team North East', and have pledged to campaign together for further vital investments in the North East.
The original Formartine and Buchan railway line was opened in 1861 to provide a link between Fraserburgh, Peterhead and Aberdeen. It finally closed in 1979 and the tracks were lifted after pleas to the then UK Conservative Government to mothball the line for possible future use fell on deaf ears.
The £358 million Borders Railway, which runs from Edinburgh to Tweedbank, carried 125,000 passengers in its first month and over 500,000 passengers in its first four months of operation, boosting local economies in what has been heralded as a majorly successful infrastructural investment.
The project, which was completed on time and to budget, included constructing 30 miles of new railway and seven new stations. Over one million passengers had used the service when it celebrated its first anniversary in September 2016.
With 126,350 more trips than expected in the first six months, passenger numbers exceeded original estimates by almost a quarter. From September 2015 through to March 2016, almost 700,000 passenger journeys were recorded.
Leading the campaign for a Buchan railway is candidate for Banff & Buchan, Dr Eilidh Whiteford.
She said: “The SNP is already delivering on big infrastructure projects across the North-east, after years of underinvestment in road and rail by previous Tory and then Labour/Liberal administrations.
"Proposals for a Buchan Railway Development would have the aim of restoring rail services to Peterhead and Fraserburgh. It would be an incredible economic boost to Buchan’s two major towns and indeed to the whole area. The success of Borders Railway provides a template and shows it can be done for the North East Acting as a united SNP team we today commit to campaign for this vital railway boost to the North East of Scotland.”
Candidate for Gordon, Alex Salmond, added: "As First Minister I authorised the Borders Railway. Despite the many naysayers including the local Tory MSP it has become a remarkable success.
"There have been many outstanding infrastructural achievements in the North East like the AWPR, the Inveramsay Bridge and the Aberdeen Emergency Centre. It is important that we seek to build upon those successes and a rail connection between Aberdeen, Ellon, Peterhead and Fraserburgh would be a fine addition to the already impressive SNP infrastructure investments in the North East.
"Connecting our communities is key to seeing them achieve their full potential. Alongside the redoubling of the line between Inverurie and Aberdeen and the new station at Kintore, further rail developments would emulate the positive impacts the Borders Railway has had upon surrounding areas, bringing new people and opportunities to our local communities and what they offer."