North-east rail passengers will enjoy twice the number of Sunday trains between Inverurie, Dyce and Aberdeen when ScotRail introduces its new summer timetable.
Six additional return services will be introduced to the busy route on Sundays from 19 May thanks to investment by Regional Transport Partnership, Nestrans.
Passenger numbers at Dyce and Inverurie have soared in recent years, increasing by 151% and 216% respectively between 2004/05 and 2011/12.
Inverurie currently has 21 northbound and 22 southbound services Monday to Saturday, compared with five trains in each direction on a Sunday. The new Sunday timetable of eleven trains will more than double the number of trains available and raise the level of service to an average of one train per hour throughout the day.
Transport Minister Keith Brown said: “I am delighted that Nestrans, through Scottish Government funding, has been able to work with ScotRail to see these new services introduced.
“The Scottish Government has worked hard to promote partnership on our transport networks wherever possible and this announcement is a fantastic example of how that kind of approach by agencies can benefit passengers.
“This news will be hugely welcomed by existing rail users in the North East and will also attract more people onto our trains, bringing benefits for local businesses, the tourism industry and the wider economy in these areas.”
ScotRail managing director Steve Montgomery said: “We recognise the strong demand for services between Inverurie and Aberdeen. Doubling the number of trains available on this route on Sundays will provide our customers with greater access to train travel for leisure activities such as shopping, visiting friends and family, and simply enjoying a day out.”
Nestrans has invested £24,000 to facilitate this expansion of Sunday services.
Nestrans chairman Peter Argyle said: “This is a popular commuter route during the week and we have seen a steady increase in passenger numbers at Inverurie Station in recent years following previous improvements to the timetable. Sunday services however have been intermittent and this has resulted in extremely busy trains. These new services will help meet the growing demand for rail travel and provide a regular and convenient alternative to travel by car for leisure passengers at the weekend.”
ScotRail’s new summer timetable also includes changes to early morning services from Aberdeen to Glasgow and Edinburgh Monday to Saturday.
To improve time-keeping, the early morning Aberdeen-Glasgow Queen Street service will depart at 5:26 instead of 5:33. The change affects the journey to Perth only, with the departure time from Perth and all stations en route to Queen Street remaining unchanged.
The early morning Aberdeen-Edinburgh service will be brought forward by four minutes, departing at 5:46 instead of 5:50. The change affects the journey to Kirkcaldy only as the departure time from there and all other stations on the way to Edinburgh will remain unchanged.