Decade anniversary of north-east train station opening ‘tarnished’ by controversial timetable changes

© DC ThomsonPictured is Laurencekirk Train Station.
Pictured is Laurencekirk Train Station.

Frustrated rail customers say controversial train timetable changes have “tarnished” what should have been a celebration of a Mearns station’s 10th anniversary.

Yesterday marked a decade since Laurencekirk was added onto the rail network following a community campaign.

But despite locals deciding to mark the occasion with a gathering at the site, one councillor claims recent decisions by Scotrail had put a dampener on the event.

Last month the operator apologised to angry commuters for  “shooting themselves in the foot” after the organisation removed stations such as Laurencekirk, Stonehaven and Portlethen from the InterCity network between Aberdeen and the Central Belt.

© DC Thomson
Scotrail apologised at a public meeting for timetable changes, which have ‘tarnished’ the 10th anniversary of Laurencekirk station’s opening.

Now, people travelling from those areas to Glasgow and Edinburgh have to make a detour to Montrose to catch connecting trains – which they say are often delayed.

Councillor George Carr said: “We had a big meeting to drive home our concerns about the new timetable and the feeling that the town was missing out.

“So it feels like the 10 year celebrations have been a bit tarnished because of the changes which are now in place.

“Most of the through routes have been curtailed, meaning people have to wait and switch at Montrose, which is causing a lot of anger.

“Scotrail has said it will come back in six months and review the timetables so hopefully common sense prevails.”

At a heated public meeting at Mearns Academy, Scotrail bosses admitted there had been failings with the timetables.

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Scott Prentice, head of business development, said: “We don’t always get it right first time and we have shot ourselves in the foot here.

“The service has not been good enough and I’m sorry.”

Mr Prentice stood in for Scotrail chief executive, Alex Hynes, at the meeting after the latter had to pull out because of a “diary clash”.

Reece Watt, a blind student from Laurencekirk who attends college in Arbroath, was among the residents who aired concerns about the changes.

Mr Watt said the changes in timetabling, and raft of cancellations, had left him forking out on taxis.

The anniversary comes just a week after it was revealed more stations could be built to the south of Aberdeen.

North-east transport body Nestrans has asked for £121,000 from the Scottish Government to explore building new stations at Cove, Altens and Newtonhill.