The north east of Scotland has rail services to Inverness, Glasgow, Edinburgh and to major destinations in England. Over 5 million people use local stations every year – a figure which has risen dramatically in recent years, from just over 3 million in 2005/06.


Nestrans works with the railway industry and Transport Scotland to secure service enhancements, address overcrowding issues and reduced journey times, where appropriate.

Nestrans is a member of Invest East Coast (formally known as the Consortium of East Coast Mainline Authorities (ECMA)) which consists of local authorities and Regional Transport partnerships along the route of the London Kings Cross-Aberdeen/Inverness railway and aims to highlight the economic importance of the line and the need for investment to ensure that the economies of the relevant regions continue to prosper. The Group has developed a business case supporting the case for investment and has held Parliamentary events in Edinburgh and London to promote the benefits to the country of investment in the East Coast Line.

Nestrans has worked to safeguard through trains between Aberdeen and London on the East Coast Main Line. This has now been assured by the 2012 announcement for a £4.5 billion Intercity Express Programme to replace ageing Intercity 125 diesel fleet with new higher capacity, more environmentally friendly trains. The new fleet of trains, the Virgin ‘Azuma’ will be used on the East Coast from 2018 and will be on of the most advanced trains in the UK.

Nestrans continues to contribute to the work of the High Speed Rail Scotland group promoting High Speed Rail to Scotland. This involves trying to keep an all Scotland view of High Speed Rail to Scotland whilst recognising the north of Scotland’s different needs, due to geography, in terms of access to English cities including London.

Nestrans’ Draft Rail Action Plan 2010-2021 considers how to achieve frequency and service improvements in the short term, leading to the opening of new stations – such as at Kintore – and more significant service enhancements over time.

Strategic Rail Improvements

Aberdeen to Inverness

The Aberdeen – Inverness Improvement Project is a Scottish Government funded project – a phased upgrade of the railway infrastructure between Aberdeen and Inverness.

The consortium of contractors led by BAM is working to deliver the phase one upgrade that includes redoubling most of the track between Aberdeen and Inverurie, provision of platform extensions at Insch and Elgin and infrastructure to allow for new stations at Kintore and Dalcross.

Future phases of the upgrades support an hourly service between Aberdeen and Inverness, with an average journey time of around 2 hours. The Scottish Government intend to deliver the whole project by 2030.

You can keep up to date with the latest details on the project here:

Aberdeen to Central Belt

In January 2016 the Scottish Government announced an initial £200 million from future Scottish government budgets over the next five to ten years to improve journey times and increase capacity on key rail links between Aberdeen and the central belt as part of a package in addition to the City Region Deal.

Network Rail is currently developing options on behalf of Transport Scotland for providing journey time benefits following their timetabling study.

In March 2017, the Minister for Transport and the Islands announce the creation of the Aberdeen to Central Belt Team, tasked with reviewing options for capacity improvements between Aberdeen and Dundee, as well as options for double tracking Usan Junction and the South Esk viaduct at Montrose.

The ACB team comprises representatives from Transport Scotland, Nestrans, Tactran, the ScotRail Alliance and freight and passenger rail service operators.