Plans to reinstate rail links between Aberdeen and Buchan move forward


AMBITIOUS plans to reinstate rail links between Aberdeen and Buchan have taken a major step forward today, with the contract awarded for a new Sustainable Transport Study. 

The Campaign for North East Rail (CNER) has championed the case for reinstating and upgrading rail infrastructure right across the North East of Scotland among communities and with policymakers.

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Their successful application to the Scottish Government’s Just Transition Fund saw £250,000 awarded to undertake this latest phase of feasibility work.

The study, which will be carried out in partnership by two of the world’s leading infrastructure consultancies AECOM and Stantec, will explore in depth the possibility of passenger and freight services running north of Dyce and onwards to Peterhead and Fraserburgh for the first time in over fifty years. 

Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce has given carrying out the study the backing of the region’s business community and will work in close partnership with AECOM and Stantec, Nestrans, CNER, Scottish Government, Scotland’s Railway & Network Rail and Transport Scotland to support and deliver the case for change and preliminary options appraisal by March 2024.

While building on previous studies to improve public transport north of Aberdeen, the study will examine CNER’s proposals in greater detail, notably the opportunities afforded by using the former Boddam Branch line not previously assessed. It will also take account of the shift in transport policy objectives over recent years, the recently announced Acorn CCUS project at St Fergus, which could significantly impact on travel and freight demand to and from Buchan alongside other regional transport studies.

To find out more about the ambition: Buchan Railway Proposals – YouTube

Jordan Jack of the Campaign for North East Rail said: 

“We’re delighted that the study to reconnect the communities of Peterhead and Fraserburgh is now proceeding.

“Since the last study was published in 2016, much has changed from a policy perspective, specifically the focus on lower carbon transport and the Just Transition, both of which are crucial to the future competitiveness and subsequent prosperity the North East.

“However, several issues faced by businesses and communities are as valid today as they have been for decades. New railways directly address issues such as investment, social inclusion, modal shift and many others, as clearly demonstrated by Borders rail and the soon to open Levenmouth rail link.

“CNER believes that Fraserburgh and Peterhead — currently the two largest towns in the UK furthest from the rail network — stand to benefit hugely from reconnection to rail and this study serves to make the conclusive case for why this part of the North-east needs to be reconnected. 

“This is the next step on the journey to making Peterhead, Fraserburgh and other communities in NE Aberdeenshire more connected, thereby making them better places than ever to live, work, and enjoy.

“We look forward to the upcoming public engagement and thank all our partners and stakeholders for getting the campaign to this important milestone, whose support and collaboration are invaluable.”

Russell Borthwick, Chief Executive of Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce, said: 

“Today marks a significant step forward in the campaign to reinstate rail to the towns and industrial heartlands of North-east Aberdeenshire.

“If we want to see our region’s economy firing on all cylinders, we need better transport links to major centres of industry and commerce such as Peterhead and Fraserburgh, joining up settlements of significant size and population along the way. 

“The success of the reinstating the Borders railway and now the Levenmouth project in Fife shows what can be achieved with credible plans, a good business case and public support backed by local business communities. This is not pie in the sky.

“Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce is proud to share the vision for reconnecting Buchan to the UK-wide rail network, with the huge potential that brings for shifting freight, for commuters travelling across our region and for attracting more visitors to explore this fantastic corner of Scotland. But this isn’t an argument for rail over better road connectivity, we should have the ambition to aim for both. Other regions of Scotland are seeing multi billions of pounds committed to their public transport systems. This can be achieved at a fraction of that amount.

“The next phase of work is not about a consultant being appointed to carry out some desk research in isolation. Instead, it will be delivered in a spirit of true partnership, between the stakeholders and in conjunction with the local community to explore the strategic case for future investment.”

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