Councillor Alan Turner has been appointed as the new chair of Nestrans. The chair will lead the Regional Transport Partnership, as work continues to deliver the 20-year vision for travel in the north east.
Councillor Turner is a member of Aberdeenshire Council representing Stonehaven and Lower Deeside and serves as chair of the council’s Infrastructure Services Committee.
The new chair was appointed last week (Wednesday 20 September) at the September meeting of the Nestrans board.
Speaking after his appointment, Councillor Turner said, “I’m delighted to take up the position as chair of Nestrans. We have a very experienced and knowledgeable board who are committed to enhancing the north east’s connectivity, and I’m eager to be able to contribute and add another perspective.”
During the board meeting, updates were given on a variety of active travel projects in the works. Among them is the ongoing work to establish a local cycle network with permanent signage, focusing on quiet roads. With the north east having hosted the ‘Tour Series’ cycling events and stages of the Tour of Britain twice in recent years, it is hoped the new network of routes will help bolster the area’s growing cycling tourism market and the resulting economic benefits to local businesses. Nestrans are also leading work to develop an active travel network plan for the region, coordinating efforts from Nestrans, Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire councils. The network plan will guide future walking, wheeling, and cycling projects and policies, as well as funding bids, and delivery priorities.
On rail matters, a presentation was given from Ewan Tait, Business Development Executive at ScotRail. Mr Tait provided an update on forthcoming timetable changes in December to improve reliability. Board members noted that while these changes will improve long-distance connectivity from local stations, they queried the impact this will have on cross-city services. Mr Tait also highlighted ScotRail’s upcoming trial to lift peak time restrictions on off-peak tickets, funded by the Scottish Government. The first of its kind in the UK, the trial fare structure will start from 2 October 2023 to make travelling by train more accessible and affordable.
Discussing the progress of Aberdeen Rapid Transit (ART), members heard that work has now started to determine the desired routes and interchange points for the ART corridors and services. Expected to take around six months, the work will look at two cross-city bus rapid transit routes in detail. Meanwhile, engagement continues with local businesses, major employers and key destinations along the proposed ART routes, building awareness and support for the project. Having submitted a Detailed Options Appraisal and funding request officers are engaging with Transport Scotland on the next stages of the project, moving towards developing an Outline Business Case.
The board welcomed the official opening of Aberdeen South Harbour (Friday, 22 September). Acknowledging the benefits that the South Harbour brings to the region’s extensive port facilities, Nestrans continue to work with partners to assess and deliver road, public transport and active travel measures to enhance connectivity to the new facility and support the Energy Transition Zone.
The contribution of our ports to our regional economic growth, as well as their key freight connections with road and rail were the focus of the recent North East Freight Forum meeting. Regional stakeholders received updates on the various plans, challenges and opportunities present at Port of Aberdeen, Peterhead Port Authority, and Fraserburgh Harbour, as well as ongoing work on the A90/A952 corridor, rail freight opportunity, and an update on the upgraded link road to Aberdeen South Harbour.