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Call for new stations to create ‘community rail network’ in Aberdeen

Transport Scotland is being urged to explore new stations in Aberdeen.
Transport Scotland is being urged to explore new stations in Aberdeen.

Government ministers are being urged to consider plans to create a “community rail network” and build several new stations in Aberdeen.

New stations could be created at Kittybrewster and Bucksburn in addition to Cove – where a site assessment has already been carried out.

Holyrood transport chiefs have been asked to release money for a feasibility study in order to investigate the proposals.

Three SNP parliamentary candidates – Jackie Dunbar, Kevin Stewart and Audrey Nicoll – have written to transport minister Michael Matheson calling on him to back the scheme.

They believe creating new stations could improve links between communities and increase footfall in the city centre.

And they claim a station at Kittybrewster is “ideally placed” to give passengers from Woodside and Tillydrone, as well as Aberdeen University, greater transport links.

Mr Stewart, who is standing in Aberdeen Central, said: “Community train stops would not only benefit city centre foot fall, it would also link up communities throughout Aberdeen like we’ve not seen in decades.

“In Kittybrewster we have the space, the line infrastructure and the history of a station there in the past so it’s absolutely something we should be looking at.

“We’ve got a clear plan to get the ball rolling on assessing these sites as options and I hope it’s something that folk across the city can get behind.”

Aberdeen Donside candidate Ms Dunbar said: “If you look back to the sixties we can see that Bucksburn had a thriving station and I believe we even have part of the platform still in place.

SNP candidate Jackie Dunbar.

“Stronger transport links to the north of the city can only be a good thing and I actually think community stations could be quite transformative to Aberdeen.”

Ms Nicoll, who is standing in Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, added: “Thanks to investment secured by the SNP, we are already quite far down the line with assessment of Cove as a potential site for a south of the city rail stop.

“Linking even more communities across Aberdeen onto existing rail lines makes a lot of sense and I hope it is something that can be considered.”

However, opponents said the proposal was an “empty election promise”.

Barry Black, Labour’s candidate in Aberdeen Central, said: “The SNP have been in Government for 14 years. Kevin Stewart has been our local MSP for 10 years, and a Minister for five. This simply rings as an empty election promise rather than a serious plan to deliver for Aberdeen.

Labour candidate Barry Black.

“If he is now interested in securing rail infrastructure spending for the city, he should chase the £200 million the SNP promised – and didn’t deliver – to upgrade the Aberdeen-Dundee line, which has real strategic importance for the city’s connectivity.”

A spokesman for Transport Scotland said: “Scottish Ministers are committed to ensuring the railway meets future growth needs and are willing to consider proposals for new stations, or reopening existing ones, that arise from a positive transport appraisal which takes account of the impact on the wider rail network.

“Nestrans were awarded £30,669.82 through the Local Rail Development Fund on 22 August 2019 to part fund appraisal studies on Cross Aberdeen Travel. This work will assess the transport needs and opportunities in the Aberdeen area.

“Nestrans are currently redrafting their case for change appraisal, the first of the three appraisal stages in the LRDF process.

“The first draft of their case for change proposed the potential opening of Cove and Newtonhill train stations, with another option proposing the improvement of physical accessibility at the existing stations at Portlethen and Stonehaven.

“It is still early days, but if Nestrans provide robust appraisals which can form a Strategic Business Cases, we will consider them for potential further funding or support through our rail pipeline process.”

Paul Finch, strategy manager for the regional transport body Nestrans, said: “Proposals for enhanced local rail services connecting across Aberdeen have been contained in local and regional transport strategies since at least 2010, and continue to be a key element of Nestrans’ recently updated Regional Transport Strategy, Nestrans 2040.

“In 2019, a local rail service was introduced linking Inverurie, Dyce, Aberdeen, Portlethen, Stonehaven, Laurencekirk and Montrose, which was enabled by enhancement work on the local rail network. In October 2020, Kintore was added to this service.

“The feasibility of introducing additional stations north of Aberdeen Railway Station was reported by Nestrans in June 2019. This found that additional or relocated stations could be accommodated on the Aberdeen to Dyce railway line without the need for additional infrastructure.

“Work is now currently ongoing to consider what options may be appropriate and feasible on the corridor between Aberdeen and Laurencekirk. Strategic investment in the area’s rail network is the responsibility of Transport Scotland and Network Rail, although Nestrans have a role in developing and promoting business cases for such projects.

“Whilst the proposals feature strongly in local and regional policy, there are currently no committed proposals for additional local rail stations at this time.”

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