Multimillion-pound proposals to reintroduce a railway line north of Aberdeen and upgrade the region’s busiest road have taken a step forward.
Transport partnership Nestrans is currently considering how to overhaul road and rail links in Buchan and has now appointed two consultancy firms to explore how the project could be delivered.
American engineering firm Aecom has been commissioned to review the rail infrastructure, while transport consultant group Systra will investigate how the A90 between Ellon and Peterhead could be improved.
In a report to the Nestrans board, which will meet next Wednesday, director Derick Murray said: “At its meeting on September 30, 2016, the board received an update on the Fraserburgh and Peterhead to Aberdeen Strategic Transport Study and agreed to instruct further work to develop further the road and rail options that had emerged from the study.”
Mr Murray said the work had been put out to tender and deals with the two firms agreed last month.
“Aecom have been commissioned to undertake a more detailed review of the rail elements defined in the study and Systra have been commissioned to progress the road elements.”
It is understood preliminary meetings with both consultants will take place this week.
An interim report published last year revealed the rough cost and scale of the projects under consideration. A list of more than 130 options was drawn up and whittled down by the Nestrans team as well as experts from Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire councils.
Options include spending an estimated £113million to dual the A90 between Ellon and the Toll of Birness as well as introducing overtaking lanes along the remaining single carriageway stretch of road.
Around £300million could be invested reintroducing railway lines across the region. A first step would be creating a “heavy rail service” between Dyce and Ellon along a former line at a cost of between £130-260million.
This would pave the way for a future network to Peterhead and Fraserburgh – the two towns furthest from the national rail network.
Aecom and Systra are expected to deliver their findings to the Nestrans board in the summer.