A massive increase in rail passengers in the north-east is proof that commuters will leave their cars at home if they have a viable alternative, a transport boss said yesterday.
Official figures show the level of growth at stations in the Aberdeen area has almost doubled over the last ten years, outstripping growth in Scotland as a whole.
The findings include a 182% increase in passengers at Dyce and a 254% rise in Inverurie since 2004/05.
Derick Murray, director of transport partnership Nestrans, which works to improve transport across the North East, said the research showed that people would opt for public transport if regular and punctual services are available.
Mr Murray: “In this part of the world, if you provide people with a proper service that is convenient and reasonable, then they will use it.
“We have quite a well-educated and articulate population, and living in amongst them as I do, I know that people want to do things in an environmentally friendly way if they can.”
Mr Murray also hopes that the increase will help encourage greater investment in the network.
The Scottish Government’s Strategic Transport Projects Review has prioritised two schemes for the north-east – speeding up journey times from
Aberdeen to the central belt and completing a £200million upgrade of the Aberdeen to Inverness line.
Nestrans also wants to see local train services connecting towns across Aberdeenshire.
Yesterday’s report also recorded a 38% increase in cyclists on key routes since 2008.
The biggest increases have been on the Deeside line, which has seen significant investment and improvement in recent years, and on Union Street.
Mr Murray added: “I think that reflects the amount of work being done, particularly investment by local authorities, to make cycling easier and safer.”
The Regional Transport Strategy Monitoring Report also found that airport passenger numbers continue to rise.
In addition, the volume of freight carried through north-east ports in 2012 was 5.1million tonnes in Aberdeen and more than 1 million tonnes in Peterhead.
Barney Crockett, Aberdeen City Council’s convener of enterprise, strategic planning and infrastructure, said that a recent study by Scottish Enterprise also showed the huge level of growth at the city’s harbour.
He added: “It just underlines the need for infrastructure to support that at a Scottish level, and a recognition of how important our ports are for the future of the whole country.”