Local Councillors urge Early Action on Rail Link Study

>> 9 May 2013

Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee today backed calls for NESTRANS (North-east Scotland Transport Partnership) to commit to carrying out a feasibility study sooner rather than later on whether a rail link can be restored to Buchan.

In January, the Committee unanimously backed a proposal from Peterhead South & Cruden SNP councillor Stephen Smith to push for progress into a feasibility study. However, councilors heard today that the re-fresh of the Regional Transport Strategy being carried out by NESTRANS proposed to look only at “accessibility issues” and “options to address them, including rail links”.

Members of all parties on the Committee agreed that the council should write to and make its view known that such a study should be brought forward.

Commenting, Cllr Stephen Smith said:

“NESTRANS have tried to shunt this off into the distance as a “long-term aspiration”. The whole point about a scheme such as this is, if the cost-benefits stack up, it will be a long term project because it will inevitably take years to come to fruition even if the feasibility study was completed tomorrow.

“The fact of the matter is that the railway should never have been closed in the first place and there have been calls for many years to restore it. The cost is never going to get any cheaper as time goes on so there is no better time than now to commit to doing a study to tell us one way or the other if this can be done, whether it would have public and business support and how much it would cost.”

Ellon & District councillor Rob Merson added:

“NESTRANS need to have a bit more focus on the bigger picture and not be so dismissive towards what is now the settled view of Aberdeenshire Council. All that is being sought at this stage is a feasibility study to see whether this is something which is deliverable, would benefit the North-east and much it would cost.

“While the Aberdeen bypass will solve a lot of the area’s traffic problems in the medium term, we need to look further into the future and I don’t see it as being a choice between either better roads or improved rail links – the two go hand-in-hand.”

Cllr Martin Ford (Green-East Garioch) and Cllr Tom Malone (Ind-Peterhead South & Cruden) also voiced support for an early feasibility study at today’s meeting. Cllr Peter Argyle (Lib Dem-Aboyne, Upper Deeside & Donside), chairing, agreed with the Committee and fresh representations will now be made to NESTRANS.

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