Still no progress on North East rail improvement plans

Railway
Railway

The SNP has offered no sign of progress six months on from a Scottish Conservative request for a timetable for rail improvement works between Aberdeen and the Central Belt.

North East MSP Ross Thomson called for a timeline from Scottish Ministers in June and again raised the issue at parliament this week.

However, Transport Minister Humza Yousaf said only that there have been “discussions” and that transport "appraisal" work is underway.

In January, the Scottish Government pledged £200million for specific rail improvement work between Aberdeen and the Central Belt, including double tracking at “key pinch points”.

The announcement was made at the time of the City Region Deal, but while elements of the UK-led deal such as the Oil and Gas Technology Centre are already up and running, the Scottish Government pledges remain some way off.

Mr Thomson said: “At the time of this announcement, the SNP made great play of the extra investment it was making in the North East, but there has been no urgency whatsoever since then.

“It is now six months since I asked for a timetable for works to improve rail links between Aberdeen and the Central Belt.

“This is something that Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce and regional transport partnership Nestrans have been talking about for many years. Indeed, the Chamber described journey time improvements as 'long overdue' in its 2016 manifesto.

“I was disappointed to hear today that the government is only at the stage of holding discussions. The challenges facing the North East economy at the moment are very real and we need to swift action.

“Speeding up journey times would not only help passengers but would provide a significant boost to the local economy.

“It is high time that we saw some tangible progress on this – otherwise these are just empty promises from the SNP with no real action.”