On Track for Success: North east rail passenger figures top 6 million as region predicted to see further growth

Stuart Smith 2016, News

Total passenger figures from stations across the north east have topped a record high for recent years, as new statistics for 2014/15 are announced by the Office of Rail and Road regulator (ORR).

Passenger numbers at the eight stations across Aberdeen City & Shire are up by an average of 3.96% on the previous year, with over 6 million entries and exits through the stations.

The figures show an incredible increase over recent years given numbers a decade ago in 2004/05 were yet to top even 3 million.

The announcement comes as regional transport partnership, Nestrans, prepares their response to Network Rail’s draft Scotland Route Study, which recognises the potential for rail growth in the north east.

The study, which has been developed by Network Rail in collaboration with a range of stakeholders, including Transport Scotland, Nestrans and other regional transport partnerships across the country, enables realistic forecasts of demand for passenger journeys within Scotland.

Network Rail are currently consulting on the draft report which outlines their priorities and opportunities over the next 30 years. The completed version of which will be sent to the Government to help inform rail industry investment choices between 2019 and 2029, which could help meet the forecast growth through to 2043.

The study predicts higher growth for peak commuter demand in the north east than either of the other ‘city markets’ (Edinburgh or Glasgow) with forecasts of a 52% growth rate between now and 2023, and an increase of 151% between now and 2043.

The report outlines a number of different ‘Choices for Funders’ across Scotland for the 10 year period, including a range of options which would benefit north-east passengers:

  • The creation of a Fife by-pass line, which would enable Aberdeen-Edinburgh trains to avoid the constrained section around Kinghorn and Burntisland, creating additional capacity, with the aim of reducing the journey time by 10 minutes;
  • Addressing strategic constraints between Dundee and Aberdeen such as:
    • The Usan to Montrose single track;
    • The Camperdown looping facility;
    • Signalling capacity on the route;
    • The capacity and capability of Aberdeen station;
    • A third phase of enhancements between Aberdeen and Inverness building on existing commitments;
    • A rolling programme of electrification in phases extending to Aberdeen.

Nestrans Chair, Councillor Ramsay Milne, said: “The case for investment in rail infrastructure in the north east has never been stronger; here we have two separate reports with one confirming the incredible growth we’ve seen in passenger figures over the last decade, and another predicting yet more demand for rail travel for the decade to come.

“Connectivity plays such a vital role in the success of the north east and it is imperative to our continued economic growth that we see investment in our rail infrastructure to meet passenger demand and improve the region’s accessibility on both a local and a national level.”

Notes

The ORR’s statistics for 2014/15 can be found online at:

http://orr.gov.uk/statistics/published-stats/station-usage-estimates

Network Rail’s full Scotland Route Study is available online at:

http://www.networkrail.co.uk/long-term-planning-process/scotland-route-study/