Full steam ahead for North East Rail campaign

Calls have been made for the Transport Secretary to consider reinstating the Deeside Railway in a bid to boost business, create jobs and support tourism in the area.

Friday, 19th March 2021, 7:00 am
The Deeside line, from Aberdeen to Ballater, was in the forefront of rural branch railway lines.

The passenger railway line first opened in 1853 stretching 70km and ran from Aberdeen to Ballater.

Initial plans to extend the railway to Braemar were abandoned following opposition from Queen Victoria, who objected to the line running through the Balmoral Estate. The Deeside line was closed completely in 1967.

In a letter to the SNP Transport Secretary, Michael Matheson, SNP candidate, Fergus Mutch said “there’s never been a better time” to commit to the project as the Scottish Government seeks to create jobs and rebuild the economy following the pandemic.

Local residents have been asked to share their views via an online survey at www.fergusmutch.scot.

Mr Mutch said: “Rebuilding the Deeside Railway would be a complete game changer for Aberdeenshire. Overnight you would create the most popular tourist line in the country, with immense benefits for local residents and businesses alike. A move from road to rail is imperative if we're serious about Scotland's commitment to tackling climate change.

"The reinstated Borders railway, and local infrastructure projects like the AWPR, show what can be achieved with the right ambition and purpose. The Deeside line should be the start of the North East's rail renaissance and I'd encourage all local residents to have their say."

However, the area’s Scottish Conservative MSP Alexander Burnett believes that people in the north east will be wary of SNP promises when it comes to rail travel.

Mr Burnett said: “Douglas Ross put forward a review of lines closed by Beeching last year, so it’ll be interesting to see if the SNP really do adopt Scottish Conservative policy. We do need to boost connectivity in the north east and rebuild the economy. Alex Salmond promised to rebuild the Buchan line in 2017. However we are yet to see anything materialise.

"The north east was also promised £200 million to cut journey times from Aberdeen to the central belt by 20 minutes in 2008, then again in 2016. Michael Matheson has rowed back furiously on this promise."