IN a stern warning to the Scottish Government, North East MSP Liam Kerr has expressed concerns that plans to slash local train services by almost 50% could have dire consequences for North East high streets. Speaking in parliament, Kerr highlighted the potential harm these cuts could cause to businesses across the region, particularly during the crucial Christmas period.
The alarm was raised following ScotRail’s announcement of a new timetable that emphasises intercity links with the central belt, leading to a reduction in local train services. Starting from December, trains from Aberdeen to Inverurie will be reduced from 74 to 63. Additionally, services from Montrose, Laurencekirk, Stonehaven, and Portlethen to Inverurie will be nearly halved. The number of daily journeys between Aberdeen and Stonehaven will also decrease by six, dropping to 60.
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During the parliamentary session, Kerr, whose petition advocating for the reopening of Newtonhill and Cove railway stations garnered over 1,500 signatures, posed a critical question to Transport Minister Fiona Hyslop: “A new ScotRail timetable under which local train services in the North East will be slashed. What impact does the minister predict these cuts will have on the accessibility of places like Aberdeen, Inverurie, and Stonehaven, the businesses and economy there, and the model shift she speaks of?”
Kerr’s concern lies not just in the reduction of services but also in the potential consequences for the region’s economy and accessibility to important locations. He emphasised the significance of local rail services for residents who rely on trains for daily commutes, shopping, and social activities. Kerr argued that cutting these services in favour of intercity routes might not be the most effective solution, particularly considering the impact on local businesses and the community.
“It’s clear from the transport minister’s response that she has little time or care for the people of the North East. These drastic plans have the potential to kill our region’s High Streets and could not be more badly timed, particularly for struggling businesses who desperately need a busy Christmas,” Kerr stated.
The potential impact of these changes on North East high streets raises concerns about the region’s economic well-being, particularly at a time when local businesses are gearing up for the holiday season. As the situation develops, the local community eagerly awaits a response from the Scottish Government regarding the preservation of vital local train services that are crucial for both the residents and businesses in the North East.