Rail study drive welcomed

Passenger services on Sunday are set to double at between Inverurie and Aberdeen as of Sunday, May 19.
Passenger services on Sunday are set to double at between Inverurie and Aberdeen as of Sunday, May 19.
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Local councillors have welcomed a commitment from NESTRANS (North-east Scotland Transport Partnership) to a feasibility study on new railway lines to expand rail provision in the North-east.

Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee backed a proposal from Peterhead South & Cruden councillor Stephen Smith earlier this year to push for progress into a feasibility study to settle the issue of whether a rail link can be restored to Buchan.

NESTRANS had previously categorised this only as a “longer-term aspiration”, but following all-party support at Aberdeenshire Council and a public consultation on their Regional Transport Strategy, NESTRANS have now changed their policy.

Cllr Stephen Smith said: “This is good news and I’m pleased that NESTRANS have listened to and acted upon the responses they received from the council and the public in the consultation.

“These are difficult financial times and a major infrastructure project such as restoring the rail link to Ellon and Peterhead would cost many millions of pounds.

“The fact of the matter is that the railway should never have been closed in the first place and there have been calls for many years to restore it. The cost is never going to get any cheaper as time goes on so there is no better time than now to commit to doing a study to tell us one way or the other if this can be done, whether it would have public and business support and how much it would cost.”

Ellon & District councillor Rob Merson added:“The prospect of re-opening the Buchan line is one that I have raised at every suitable opportunity since becoming a councillor. A rail link from Ellon direct to the City Centre would make a huge contribution toward alleviating the traffic chaos at the Bridge of Don, and would be far better for the planet.

“I now look forward to a feasibility study being carried out which will allow an informed debate on how people in the North-east wish to see their transport links develop.”

Peterhead North and Rattray councillor, Alan Gardiner, said: “I feel it is imperative that we push for the return of a railway link. For me, it is important to have this alongside the duelling to Peterhead.

“We are at an exciting time in regards to attracting companies to Peterhead through Energetica. We must send a strong message that we welcome these companies and the jobs they bring, but with this we need the infrastructure to support it.”