Deeside residents are backing proposals to reinstate a historical north-east railway – with the move also expected to feature in the SNP’s election manifesto.
More than 80% of those polled have endorsed the idea that the Scottish Government should explore reconnecting the train links between Aberdeen and Ballater.
The Deeside Line opened in the 1850s but closed in 1966 as part of the wide-reaching Beeching cuts, which axed around half the UK’s train stations to save money.
The “appetite” for enhanced rail links has been growing in recent years, amid calls for a greener and more affordable network for passengers.
And last month the Scottish Government announced the ScotRail franchise will be taken into public ownership when Abellio’s contract comes to an end in 2022.
It is understood the SNP will include a pledge to work with regional transport partnerships to reinstate or develop new rail links throughout rural Scotland when it launches its election manifesto today.
Survey finds majority back Deeside proposals
The party’s Aberdeenshire West candidate, Fergus Mutch, has called on the transport secretary to consider reinstating Deeside line.
It linked Aberdeen city centre with a number of stops heading west, including Crathes, Banchory and Aboyne.
Mr Mutch has polled 145 local residents, with 84% agreeing with his idea.
Additionally, almost 95% said they would “welcome” improved transport links, with similar percentages saying they would be beneficial for businesses, communities and tourism.
Residents were also asked how satisfied they are with the existing public transport services in Deeside – with more than two-thirds saying they were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied.
Just 15% responded positively to the question.
Mr Mutch said: “Reinstating the Deeside railway would help transform Aberdeenshire.
“Residents and businesses alike agree that this move would be great for the region’s economy and tourism industry.
“The SNP has invested significant amounts in the north-east’s infrastructure in recent years, including the £750 million AWPR and improvements to the Aberdeen-Inverness mainline.
“And with an expected commitment today that a re-elected SNP government will decarbonise the country’s rail network and reinstate railway lines across rural Scotland, the time is right to take forward these proposals with serious purpose.
“Investing in a greener transport network now will create local jobs and investment for generations to come.”
Campaign for rural rail links
Last week a separate campaign was launched to reinstate rural rail links in the area.
The Campaign For North-East Rail (CNER) has been drawn up by a train driver and team of engineers, making the case for routes from Aberdeen to the Buchan coast and Deeside.
This would involve a line north of the city to a junction at Ellon, with options to visit Fraserburgh via Maud and Strichen, or Peterhead via Hatton and Cruden Bay.
A proposed reinstated Deeside line would take train passengers as far as Banchory, with an integrated bus service then stopping at Aboyne, Ballater, Balmoral and Braemar.
In 2019 an £80,000 feasibility study was unveiled to consider the opening of new platforms south of the city at Altens, Cove Bay and Newtonhill.
And last year a £15m station was opened for train passengers at Kintore.