A petition to improve train services in an Aberdeenshire community has attracted more than 600 signatures from residents who feel the situation has gone off the rails.
Following timetable changes by ScotRail in December, Laurencekirk was left with no Aberdeen to Glasgow trains stopping at the village’s local train station.
The petition, which last night had been signed by more than 660 people, urges ScotRail to reinstate its old services.
There have also been complaints about a reduction in direct services raised by passengers in Stonehaven.
Angus North and Mearns MSP, Mairi Gougeon, said the changes had resulted in locals being forced to travel all the way to Montrose to catch a train to the central belt.
Ms Gougeon said: “Residents of Laurencekirk are now abandoning the station if they want to travel south.
“They are choosing to drive to Montrose and getting the train there – that’s if they have chosen not to give up on the train and use their car for the entire journey.
“This is a ridiculous state of affairs, and that is why I have invited ScotRail chief executive Alex Hynes to visit Laurencekirk.
“I hope that he will see first-hand the negative impact the timetable changes have had for many people who use the network in the north-east.”
West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine MP Andrew Bowie added: “It is clear that there is huge concern locally about the changes to the timetable at Laurencekirk.
“At a time when the Scottish Government and the council are encouraging people to use public transport, restricting services like this sends out entirely the wrong message.”
A spokesman for ScotRail said that it is “committed to engaging with stakeholders” and “looking at diary availability” to set up a meeting after the request from Ms Gougeon.
The spokesman said: “The improvements made to our timetable last December were another milestone as we work to provide better services for Scotland’s railway.
“This was just the first phase of the work we are doing to deliver for our customers over the coming year.
“The investment the ScotRail Alliance is making to modernise Scotland’s railway, and introduce new and upgraded trains means we will deliver faster journeys, more seats and more services for our customers.”
To sign the petition, visit www.change.org and search for “Please bring back Laurencekirk’s missing train services”