Transport bosses in the north-east have asked the Scottish Government for cash to investigate potentially opening up train stations in the south of Aberdeen.
Regional transport body Nestrans has submitted an £80,000 bid for a STAG study on the potential for new sites in the south of the city.
The appeal, submitted to Scottish Government’s Local Rail Development Fund, would also look at ways to optimise a local cross-Aberdeen rail service.
If the government grants the funding application, Nestrans would add to it to cover the cost of the £121,000 study – which would focus on Cove, Altens and Newtonhill.
Improving rail journey times was one of the key commitments of the City Region Deal signed in 2016 and Nestrans is already reviewing capacity in the north of the city.
Aberdeen once had a wide-ranging network of stations but was hit hard by cuts, and now only Dyce and the main station in Aberdeen remain.
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Documents submitted along with the study bid bemoaned the lack of stations in the north-east generally and high car dependency in the region.
Communities south of the Dee have expanded massively in recent years, including vast new housing and commercial areas.
The document reads: “Between Aberdeen and Laurencekirk on the East Coast mainline is a stretch of approximately 32 miles.
“The population of the area is around 69,000 people, yet only three stations (in addition to Aberdeen itself) serve the area.
“Laurencekirk station was reopened in May 2009 and its patronage now exceeds projections by almost 200%.”
Nestrans chairman Peter Argyle said: “If we are successful in our bid it would allow us to investigate suitable locations for potential new stations in Cove, Altens and Newtonhill as well as other options.
“With the growing population in the area this will be welcome news to the local residents.”
Earlier this week, councillors Stephen Flynn and Alex Nicoll wrote to Transport Secretary Michael Michael Matheson and Nestrans to ask about the possibility of opening stations south of the city.
Last night, Mr Flynn said: “This is exactly the news that I was hoping to hear and, if successful, this bid has the potential to transform travel in the south of the city.
“It’s absolutely vital for our city moving forward that there are stations in the south of Aberdeen and I will do everything I can to make this a reality for my constituents.”
Liberal Democrat group leader Ian Yuill welcomed the bid and said his group had long supported new stations.
The Local Rail Development Fund (LRDF) is a pot of £2million, some of which has already been allocated.
Transport Secretary Mr Matheson said: “This £2million fund will help communities bring forward proposals to tackle specific, local rail connectivity issues, which will form part of our considerations for long-term investment in Scotland’s transport system.”