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18 May 2009

Laurencekirk re-opening signals new era for commuters

Scottish Government investment of £3.5 million has seen the return of passenger trains to Laurencekirk for the first time in over 40 years.

Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson said this brings substantial benefits to the local community. The Minister was speaking as he reopened the station which had been left derelict following the Beeching cuts in the 1960s.

Mr Stevenson said:

"The new station will provide a real boost to the local community delivering more trains and new services for commuters and improving access to jobs, education and leisure. This is clearly a special day for the people of Lawrencekirk and the surrounding area, particularly those who campaigned over the years to have their station reopened and I'm delighted to join their celebrations.

"This project demonstrates this Government's commitment to investing in transport infrastructure that encourages drivers out of their cars and on to more sustainable forms of travel. It is expected that this new station will attract 36,000 passengers a year and ease congestion on the local road network.

"As a Government we are committed to making further improvements to Highland rail services. Through our ambitious STPR we are fast tracking work on the Highland line which will result in reduced journey times and increased services between Aberdeen and Inverness. There are also plans to improve journey times between Aberdeen and the central belt and create a new station at Dalcross."

The Grade B listed station, left, has been transformed through a £3.5 million investment with Scottish Government funding provided by Transport Scotland and NESTRANS, supported by Aberdeenshire Council and a Railway Heritage Trust grant.

Network Rail managed delivery of the project on Transport Scotland's behalf, with Galliford Try being awarded the design and build contract that included the refurbishment and restoration of the station building; a new accessible footbridge; two new platforms and installation of customer information systems.

The station waiting room includes original wooden features and British Rail posters reclaimed from the derelict building in addition to period fireplaces that are in keeping with the features. Local secondary school, Mearns Academy, is providing artwork depicting the history of the station and area for the waiting room walls.

Ron McAulay, Network Rail Director Scotland added: "This has been an extremely rewarding project to deliver, and it is one which will bring much anticipated benefits to the people of the local community. We are pleased to have been able to complete the project to the timescale we set and also to have found more than £400,000 in efficiency savings."

The new station will provide a direct public transport service and commuters will be able to take advantage of 11 services northbound and 10 services southbound daily during the week. It is expected that 36,000 people will use the station each year.

Steve Montgomery, managing director of ScotRail, said: "I am delighted that trains are back at Laurencekirk after an absence of more than four decades.

"They provide the travelling public with a new choice on their doorstep and should also have a positive knock-on environmental impact."

The scheme plays a key part in Nestrans' Regional Transport Strategy for the North East.

Nestrans chairman Cllr Kevin Stewart said: "The re-opening of the station is the latest in a series of key moves to create better local rail services for the people of the north-east and we expect to see further projects come to fruition in the coming years.

"We actively promoted and support this project because it broadens transport choices for people in the local area and makes for a more efficient transport network all round."

In addition to the new train services, commuters can also look forward to a 70 space car park being delivered by Aberdeenshire Council which is expected to be open in July 2009.

Transport Scotland is the national transport agency responsible for road, rail and national concessionary travel. Transport Scotland is an executive agency directly accountable to Scottish Ministers and came into effect January 1, 2006.

Network Rail is the 'not for dividend' owner and operator of Britain's railway infrastructure, which includes the tracks, signals, tunnels, bridges, viaducts, level crossings and stations - the largest of which the company also manages. Network Rail aims to provide a safe, reliable and efficient rail infrastructure for freight and passenger trains.

The anticipated final cost under Transport Scotland's implementation agreement with Network Rail is under £3.5 million. Nestrans is contributing 20 per cent of this cost and is funding the car park construction. Efficiencies worth over £400,000 have been obtained in delivery through value engineering and effective risk management. The Railway Heritage Trust awarded a grant of £150,000. Aberdeenshire Council promoted the project during feasibility.
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