Transport chiefs are to look seriously at the costs and practical implications of reinstating railway lines in the north-east.
Nestrans, the regional transport partnership, makes the pledge in a new document outlining the challenges facing Aberdeenshire and the city over the next 20 years.
It has agreed to launch a feasibility study into the costs and benefits of re-establishing long abandoned rail links.
The move, set out in the body’s Regional Transport Strategy, could result in the reopening of the Formartine and Buchan line and a track put in place to link Aberdeen with Banchory.
Both routes were closed in the 1960s through the Beeching cuts and are used as paths by walkers and cyclists today. In September, Nestrans agreed to investigate the possibility of re-establishing the Formartine line following a campaign by Aberdeenshire councillors who said it would cut commuting times and take freight off the A90 Aberdeen to Peterhead road.
Peterhead South and Cruden councillor Stephen Smith said: “A feasibility study into re-establishing a rail link into Buchan is a vital piece of work because it will establish once and for all how much such an undertaking would cost, as well as the benefits to commuters and the local economy.
“At the moment, there is an aspiration that a rail link would be beneficial but no research exists to tell policymakers how much this would cost.
“The Nestrans study will be an important first step in this regard.”
In January, councillors raised concerns over the lack of infrastructure planned to support the growth of the north-east in the coming years.
A report prepared for Aberdeenshire Council said: “Although they remain long term aspirations in terms of delivery, Nestrans will, in the short term, consider the feasibility, costs and benefits of new railway lines to expand rail provision in the north east.”