Eric Guthrie is the lead officer responsible for promoting the Aberdeen Crossrail project for NESTRANS (the public/private North East Scotland Transport partnership). He began his presentation by outlining the background to Aberdeen Crossrail, dating back to 1992/93 when a joint Grampian Regional Council and ScotRail study was commissioned into the potential for a commuter service between Aberdeen and Stonehaven.
The study findings in 1993 concluded that: the existing regional and inter-city services offered limited opportunities for local travel; there was a local demand of 1,000 passengers per day which was forecast to rise to 5,300 per day with the provision of an additional six stations; 56% of generated passengers would come from cars and 44% from local bus services; and a local commuter service would remove 300,000 peak-time car journey per annum from the local road network.
The potential costs (pre-privatisation) amounted to £4.5 million to reinstate 15 miles of double-track, approx £500,000 to £1.5 million for additional stations/halts, and an estimated service subsidy of £100,000 per annum for a dedicated service running initially hourly and then half-hourly. Approval was attained to move to the next stage, i.e. a full assessment of the operational and infrastructural implications. However, the project hit the buffers due to British Rail privatisation, rail industry re-organisation, and local government re-organisation.
In 1997, the new Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Councils endorsed the previous work and approved further investigation. In the same year the 1st Railtrack Network Management Statement made reference to an hourly Aberdeen - Inverness service. In 1999 the Strategic Rail Authority Incremental Output Statement adopted the Aberdeen - Inverness route, prompting a re-think of Crossrail delivery issues and opportunities.
A bid was submitted to the 2001/02 Public Transport Fund for £9.6 million to deliver a "dynamic" train passing loop at Kintore, along with a new railway station. In November 1999 approval was given in principle to the project, subject to further work on the costs and benefits, given spiralling rail engineering costs. In the interim the Scottish Executive awarded £300,000 to support station enhancements at Stonehaven, Dyce and Inverurie. In 2000 a revised funding bid was submitted and approved by the Executive for £466,000, for Railtrack to undertake a detailed "Level 4" costing of the project. A project Steering Group was set up involving the local authorities, Railtrack, ScotRail, the Scottish Executive and the SRA.
In April 2000 MVA were commissioned to review all previous work; provide a revised proposal based initially upon the incremental development of existing ScotRail Express services, followed by a dedicated service; and identify infrastructure issues.
MVA produced a revised proposal for Aberdeen Crossrail consisting of a half-hourly service in Phase 1; constructed from an hourly Aberdeen - Inverness service, an hourly Edinburgh - Aberdeen service, and an hourly Glasgow - Aberdeen service extending to Inverurie. Phase 2 comprised a 15 minute service (as per Phase 1 service, supplemented by a dedicated half-hourly Stonehaven - Aberdeen - Inverurie local service), and three additional stations (one in Newtonhill and two in Aberdeen). However, following publication of the findings the project hit the buffers again, this time due to Railtrack being placed in administration in October 2001.
In November 2002 a contract was awarded to White Young Green to undertake a "Level 4" assessment. This report confirmed the infrastructure requirements for the project as: two static passing loops, located at Kintore and Kittybrewster (Aberdeen); a station at Kintore; and provision for freight paths on the route. These requirements are dependent upon improvements to signalling etc on the Aberdeen - Inverness route, and the delivery of a rail freight terminal at the Raiths Farm site north of Aberdeen. At the time of the presentation Eric Guthrie advised that the final report was to be agreed by the steering group, and findings were awaited on ongoing work on the Aberdeen - Inverness route, prior to submitting a funding bid to the Integrated Transport Fund.
Report by Marion Mackay.
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