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15 March 2016

Rail Boost for NE Strengthens Case for Buchan Rail Link

Banffshire & Buchan Coast SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has said today’s announcement from the Scottish Government of a “revolution in rail” in Scotland, which will deliver the largest programme of benefits to rail passengers seen in a generation – with a particular emphasis on additional services and seats in the North-east – strengthens the case for extending the rail network into Buchan.

Scottish Government Transport Minister, Derek Mackay, today announced that ScotRail will introduce 200 new services, providing 20,000 more seats per day, with passengers across Tayside, Stirlingshire, Perthshire, Aberdeenshire and the Borders set to feel the benefits.

Timetable improvements are made possible by the decision by the Scottish Government to retain 13 additional Class 170 diesel trains (39 additional carriages) beyond the terms of their current leases, which were due to end in 2018. These extra trains create the capacity to make timetable service improvements – with input supplied by local stakeholders to find the best fit for local priorities.

For the North-east this means:
  • Improved services to Inverness with some of the trains coming from Edinburgh/ Glasgow through Aberdeen to Inverness
  • The introduction of a “local” rail service between Inverurie and Montrose stopping at all stations
  • Reduced journey times to Edinburgh/Glasgow with limited stopping
This improvement will provide for a half hourly service from Inverurie to Aberdeen. Completion of the upgrade of the Aberdeen to Inverurie line will help facilitate this.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“This announcement today by the Transport Minister is very good news for rail travellers in the North-east. In particular, reduced journey times to Glasgow and Edinburgh will be of great benefit to travellers.

“We know that the momentum is building behind the re-establishment of a rail link to Buchan. Passenger usage figures across North-east stations have risen dramatically in recent years. There is no reason to believe that railheads in Buchan would not be just as well-used as other stations in Aberdeenshire, with all the knock-on economic benefits that would flow from that.”

Transport Minister, Derek Mackay, said:

“We have initiated a revolution in rail services across Scotland. From 2018 passengers will benefit from more seats, more services and faster journey times as a direct result of the increased funding that we are putting into the rail network.

“The retention of these units will complement the arrival of our new High Speed Trains, which will allow for new and improved intercity connections. They will also make our rail network more resilient, creating opportunities to run faster services on key commuter routes and offering better connectivity for regional areas.

“This funding is in addition to the £475m investment in Scotland’s rolling stock over the lifetime of the franchise, meaning Scotland’s rail passengers have never been better served, both in terms of the quality of the trains they travel on, and the number of services running on the network.”

Phil Verster, Managing Director of Abellio ScotRail said:

“This is a really significant moment in our mission to transform Scotland’s railway. In three years time, the service that we provide to our customers will be unrecognisable. Our new electric fleet will be running between Glasgow and Edinburgh, our High Speed trains will be linking our seven cities and, thanks to this announcement today, we will have hundreds more services and thousands more seats available to customers across Scotland – particularly in Aberdeen, the North East and Fife.

“I really cannot overstate just how big a change to our service that this announcement represents. This is not a slight amendment to the way we do business, it is a fundamental change. These new trains will allow us to completely recast our timetables, meaning more regular, local services combined with a high speed intercity offering.

“This transformation means that we can set about delivering on our vision of a railway that connects people with jobs, businesses with customers and communities with the opportunity to grow and prosper. A railway that delivers for Scotland – not just because of what it is, but because of what it allows our country to do.”

Stewart Stevenson
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