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Readers’ letters: Single-track stretches are derailing improvements

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Sir, – Campbell Gunn suggested many worthwhile improvements to the railway system for consideration.

I was surprised he omitted to mention the lines between the cities of Aberdeen, Inverness and Perth are still predominantly single track. This is proving to be a major strategic constraint.

The government response to the climate change emergency is rightly to try to reduce emissions by cutting dependency on cars and transferring more freight to go by rail and sea. The two rail line blockages at Carmont on the direct line south have shown how much Aberdeen needs an alternative strategic rail route.

The only alternative is the long way round by Inverness but this is hampered by the many stretches of single track, including the 18-mile constriction between Keith and Elgin. Passenger trains had to be cancelled to let the essential freight contract diversions through.

This bottleneck is preventing introduction of the 2008 strategic priority to introduce an hourly passenger frequency with an Aberdeen to Inverness journey time of two hours, and also the running of new freight trains for timber and whisky raw materials and products to and from Keith and Elgin. We still await priority funding.

Richard J Ardern, Drumdevan Road, Inverness.

EU membership a matter of opinion

Sir, – Your article reporting the SNP’s Blackford chuntering on about Scotland regaining its place in Europe perpetuates several infelicities regularly trotted out in recent years.

Scotland per se has never been a member of the EU, its place having been as a component part of the UK. “ More than 60% of Scots backed staying in the EU” is a false fact – in 2016 only 67% in total of Scotland’s electorate were energised enough to vote in that referendum, with 41.7% of the electorate expressing a wish to remain in the EU, hardly the “ overwhelming majority” regularly claimed by Blackford and his ilk.

His reported statement that it is “all the more essential that people in Scotland have the choice to determine their own future in an independence referendum” sits ill with the SNP refusal to consider giving the Scottish electorate another referendum on EU membership.

We are baldly told that we will apply for membership, ignoring older and wiser SNP heads which recognise the oxymoronic notion of independence in such EU incorporation.

Ronald Johnston, St Ola, Orkney.

Don’t waste money on white elephant

Sir, – In relation to the quite astonishing prospect of the white elephant Aberdeen beach cycle lanes being resurrected, I concur wholeheartedly with the views expressed by Bill Melvin. In particular, the fact that these were seldom used, even in the cycle-frenzy days of the first lockdown.

I’m sure with a local election looming our politicians will be sensitive to anything resembling a flagrant waste of precious council funding, as that is precisely what this ludicrous suggestion would amount to.

These lanes were, no doubt, implemented in demonstration of a concern for the environment. However, someone should really have monitored for unintended and quite ironic consequences. In particular, the completely unused cycle lanes on the Esplanade stretch in front of the beach cafes, etc, and the consequential and ridiculous one-way system for traffic which has forced all northbound traffic on to Links Road. The tailbacks emanating from this result in stationary cars spewing out their fuel emissions on a road which is adjacent to a children’s amusement facility. Quite incredible!

Cyclists are, of course, legitimate stakeholders when it comes to matters relating to our beach facility.

However, they are a tiny minority when compared with the hundreds of joggers, walkers, water sports enthusiasts and young families who routinely frequent the area.

Ewan Sutherland, Braehead Way, Bridge of Don, Aberdeen.

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