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SNP transport minister to visit north-east amid push for Buchan rail links

Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth is expected to visit the north-east in June.
Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth is expected to visit the north-east in June.

The SNP’s transport minister will visit the north-east this summer to discuss plans to bring back Peterhead and Fraserburgh rail links.

Jenny Gilruth is expected to meet with campaigners and north-east Conservative MSP Liam Kerr at Dyce Station on June 24 to discuss the proposals.

The Scottish Government’s major transport review failed to include reinstating the Buchan and Formartine rail link within its recommendations.

This is despite a feasibility study being promised as part of the co-operation agreement between the SNP and Greens. 

‘Flippant decision’

Mr Kerr will use the site visit to ask the transport minister when this promised feasibility study will be carried out and why the proposals were not taken forward in the 20-year masterplan.

This is despite the Scottish Government pressing ahead with proposals to reopen the Levenmouth rail line in Fife.

He said: “The people of Peterhead, Fraserburgh, Dyce and Ellon deserve answers from the SNP and this is exactly what I hope to get from this site visit with Jenny Gilruth.

North-east Conservative MSP LIam Kerr.

“Once again the north-east has been stopped in its tracks at a time when the Scottish Government only wants to concentrate on the Central Belt by upgrading the Levenmouth rail line in Fife.

“It’s scandalous that our region has been left in this position by a flippant decision that has been made behind the scenes in the hope no one would notice.

“I therefore hope Ms Gilruth’s site visit will make her realise that the benefits of relaying the lines from Peterhead and Fraserburgh to Aberdeen can’t be ignored.”

Campaigners welcome visit

The Campaign for North East Rail (CNER) group, which is seeking to bring back railways all across the north-east, has welcomed the ministerial statement.

Co-chair of the group, Wyndham Williams, said: “We’re looking forward to meeting the transport minister and engaging with her to make the case for rail links to Peterhead and Fraserburgh.

“We think the case is sound and we look forward to working with her and welcome the visit.”

The campaign’s railway map of its proposals, which include an integrated bus link between Banchory and Braemar.

A Transport Scotland spokesman said the minister is looking forward to meeting Mr Kerr and CNER and “discussing the proposal further”.

She added: “An option for new rail line between Aberdeen, Ellon and onwards to Peterhead and Fraserburgh was assessed as part of the second Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR2).

“The outcome of this was that this option did not form part of the strategic transport investment recommendations within STPR2.

“Instead, recommendations set out in STPR2 focus on the decarbonisation of the remainder of the rail network; measures to increase the amount of freight travelling by rail and on improving connectivity between our 7 cities.

“However, there remains a path for regional or local rail projects to come forward, and Transport Scotland will consider these subject to a strong business case being developed in accordance with Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance (STAG) and suitable funding being available.”

Where each party stands on rail links to Peterhead, Fraserburgh and Ellon

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