£170m to improve Aberdeen to Inverness rail

Stuart Smith 2014, News

Nestrans welcomes the announcement on rail improvements between Aberdeen and Inverness by Scottish Government on 28 March.  The press release issued states that “Rail passengers in the north and north east of Scotland will enjoy shorter, more frequent and more comfortable journeys thanks to a huge package of improvements confirmed today by First Minister Alex Salmond.

The £170 million scheme of works, to be completed over the next five years, will result in:

  • redoubling of the track between Aberdeen and Inverurie
  • platform extensions to accommodate six-car trains at Insch and Elgin
  • signalling improvements at Elgin to improve reliability
  • new relocated station at Forres, helping cut journey times
  • loop extension of the track at Forres
  • infrastructure to allow for new stations at Dalcross and Kintore

Future phases of the scheme will support an hourly service between the cities with average journey time reducing to around two hours.  The First Minister also welcomed an enhanced timetable being introduced by ScotRail in the summer that will immediately increase the number of services.

Transport Scotland has given ScotRail the go-ahead to introduce a series of new services from May, including: an hourly Sunday Aberdeen/Glasgow service between 9am and 6pm, meaning eight extra trains; additional weekday services between Inverurie and Aberdeen, improving peak-time travel and a new early-morning peak service from Huntly to Aberdeen. The new timetable begins on Sunday 18 May, but full details are now available on ScotRail’s website.

The First Minister said: “I am determined that we continue to seek improvements to Scotland’s train infrastructure, ensuring that we have an efficient, reliable and comfortable service for passengers in communities across the country.

“That is why today’s announcement is so important – a huge £170 million investment on the Aberdeen-Inverness line that will make journeys shorter, more frequent and more comfortable for those who use this important line regularly.

“These improvements – which will increase the number of trains, improve signalling and lay the infrastructure necessary for new stations, will be welcomed by passengers, who will also be pleased to hear of the service enhancements that will see their timetable improve in the coming weeks.

“This investment is all part of our programme to ensure Scotland has a railway fit for the future and our £5 billion commitment to rail infrastructure and services is addressing decades of neglect on the railways throughout Scotland.”

Steve Montgomery, managing director of ScotRail, said: “We are seeing strong demand for Sunday services between Aberdeen and Glasgow. Adding four express trains in each direction will give people many more journey opportunities throughout the day.”

David Dickson, Network Rail acting route managing director for Scotland, said: “Increasing capacity across the network and offering passengers a wider range of services is a key priority for Network Rail and we look forward to working with the Scottish Government to deliver this much-needed enhancement of the line.”