Ambitious plans for a new rail link between Aberdeen Airport, the new AECC and the city centre have not been forgotten and could be funded through a second City Deal, the council leader has said.
City council bosses unveiled their multimillion- pound vision to create a track between the airport and the new Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre at Bucksburn last September.
The plans, which would include new stations at the airport and the AECC, could cost as much as £70million.
The proposals were to be funded by a devolution of air passenger duty to the local authority.
But the scheme suffered a setback after Holyrood ruled out the plan.
The council was then asked to submit a feasibility study to Transport Scotland and has been asked to submit a second more formal appraisal report. Last night council leader Jenny Laing said the authority would look closely at the response and that the new line could be funded by a second £250million city deal.
Delivering a second City Region Deal is a central election manifesto commitment from Labour which has now been accepted for the rest of the ruling coalition as part of their policy document.
But Mrs Laing added that if a £254million funding commitment signed by the Scottish Government on the same day as the City Region Deal last year had been directly allocated to Aberdeen then they would already have the funding in place.
She said: “This would be a huge strategic asset for the city and the wider region and is the sort of big thinking that we will need in the future.
“If we were handed that money directly then we could have used it for the link.
“We are now looking at a second city deal and what we got from that could be used for the link and other cross city connections.”
Under the plans, the heart of the city would be connected to Aberdeen International Airport by a light or heavy railway.
And passengers would also be able to head straight to the new £333million Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre – which is due for completion in 2019 – for concerts and shows. Both venues would have their own stations.
Travelling to the airport from either the north or south currently involves getting off at Dyce Station and completing the journey by bus.
The new link would utilise the existing Aberdeen-Inverness line and would also run from the new AECC to the airport.
Under the Labour-led budget which was passed in February, chief executive Angela Scott was instructed to begin talks to develop transport proposals under the second City Deal.
But SNP infrastructure spokesman Michael Hutchison said: “We called this idea ‘pie in the sky’ when Labour first proposed it and there’s been no work done since then to show it is feasible or a wise use of public money since then.
“Improving transport and infrastructure is in everyone’s interests, but detailed planning and budgeting has to be the foundations it is built upon.
“It is disappointing to hear the council leader talk down major investment in this city and expect to be granted a bottomless piggybank to suit her own agenda.”
A Transport Scotland spokeswoman said the Scottish Government body was waiting for Aberdeen City council to submit the necessary appraisal report before they could determine the viability of the link.