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Calls for answers on north-east rail upgrade cash

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A call for answers has been made about a multi-million-pound promise to improve rail journey times.

The Scottish Government pledged £200 million to be spent on rail infrastructure upgrades to reduce travel times from Aberdeen to the central belt by 20 minutes.

Under the proposals, which have been around since 2008, the Usan junction near Montrose would have moved from a single track to double.

© DCT Media
Aberdeen train station.  Picture by Kami Thomson.

But in 2018, it emerged the idea had been abandoned after it was discovered the revamp would only shave up to two-and-a-half minutes off journeys to the central belt.


This was revealed at a meeting of the Aberdeen City Region Deal joint committee.

Scottish Government transport bosses have said the £200 million will be used to upgrade rail services by 2026.

But north-east Conservative members Bill Bowman, Peter Chapman, Tom Mason, Liam Kerr, Alexander Burnett and Angus councillor Braden Davy have written to transport secretary Michael Matheson calling for more details.

Bill Bowman said: “The SNP must deliver on the £200m promises of 2008 and 2016 to cut passenger journey times.

“This is a fiasco 12 years in the making.

“What we are asking for is clear – has all this nebulous money been spent and how? If so, I think Michael Matheson should show a receipt.”

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© Supplied by Scottish Conservativ
Angus councillor Braden Davy is among those who have written to Michael Matheson.

Braden Davy, said: “The clear message was that investment would slash 20 minutes from Aberdeen to Edinburgh – benefiting rail users along that entire route.

“Since then, improvements at the choke point north of Montrose have been quietly ditched.

“And timetable changes weren’t what north-east businesses and rail passengers had been asking for.”

The letter reads: “Sub two-hour journey times from Aberdeen to Edinburgh were spoken of as a result of this money.

“This would have benefitted travellers from the city, Aberdeenshire, Tayside and Fife with all stops in between.

“That objective has been quietly shelved over the past four years, but our constituents should know there will be a tangible benefit for passengers from this money.

“They want to see real movement on this after 12 years.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We have committed £200m towards enhancing the rail network between Aberdeen and the Central Belt by 2026 for the benefit of passenger and freight services.

“The north-east has benefitted from substantial rail enhancements including re-doubling of the line between Aberdeen and Inverurie, half-hourly services between Inverurie and Aberdeen, with alternate services continuing to Montrose via all stops, including the newly opened Kintore station, to provide a “cross-rail” service.  Refurbished high-speed trains now operate many services from Aberdeen to Glasgow, Edinburgh and Inverness.

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“The second Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR2) is considering transport infrastructure investment in Scotland for the next 20 years and has also committed £125m over ten years as part of the Aberdeen City Region Deal to improve a number of areas, including transport infrastructure.”

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