Mar 272015

MartinFordatUTGWith thanks to Cllrs Martin Ford and Paul Johnston.

Aberdeenshire councillors are voicing their support for reinstating the railway to Ellon as part of the proposed Aberdeen City Region Deal.
The suggestion of including re-opening the rail line to Ellon in any Aberdeen City Region Deal was made by Green councillor Martin Ford (pictured) and Democratic Independent councillor Paul Johnston.

The two councillors unveiled their idea when Aberdeenshire Council considered the City Region Deal at its meeting on 12 March.

“We believe the City Region Deal offers the best prospect for taking rail re-opening to Ellon onwards from being an aspiration to making it a reality,” said Cllr Ford.

Following the 12 March full council meeting, Cllr Ford and Cllr Johnston wrote to the leaders of Aberdeenshire’s coalition administration and SNP councillors seeking cross-party backing for their rail re-opening proposal. (See letter attached)

It is now clear there will be support from at least the Aberdeenshire SNP councillor group.

“The time has come for moving forward on re-opening the line to Ellon,” said Cllr Johnston.

“Better public transport is essential to cut road congestion and reduce carbon emissions, in line with commitments to tackle climate change. Reinstating the railway would also offer significant economic development opportunities.

“It is a good fit with the aims of the Energetica development corridor.”

A number of former rail lines in different parts of Scotland have been been rebuilt and re-opened in recent years. The longest new route, the almost thirty miles of rebuilt railway from Edinburgh to Tweedbank in the Borders, is due to open on 6 September.

Said Cllr Ford:

“The former railway from Dyce to Ellon is about 14 miles long and, apart from one very small section, the whole of the track-bed is owned by Aberdeen City Council or Aberdeenshire Council. If the railway was to re-open, the current Formartine & Buchan walk/cycle way would have to be relocated to an adjacent position.

“A station at Ellon would not just serve the town, but act as a park and ride station for Fraserburgh, Peterhead and central Buchan. Newmachar is the largest settlement along the route, but the number of intermediate stations is one of many things that would need to be considered through a cost/benefit analysis to arrive at a detailed scheme for re-opening.

“Although there is a desire to re-open the line further than Ellon, we are proposing just the Dyce to Ellon section, at least for the time being. We believe this section of route offers the best chance for a successful new railway and is the most practical option.

“Of course, a great deal of technical work will be required for a transport project on this scale. The planning process too will take time. Aberdeenshire Council, though, has already expressed its support in principle for exploring re-opening. The City Region Deal offers a great opportunity to bring that hope to fruition.”

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  16 Responses to “‘Re-Open Rail Line To Ellon’ – Shire Councillors”

  1. All very laudable but, given Aberdeen Crossrail has been spoken about for over thirty years and we only have Dyce and Laurencekirk stations re-opened, I wouldn’t be holding my breath on this one.

    With the existing rail infrastructure, it is perfectly possible to operate a thirty minute service from Stonehaven to Inverurie, even with the installation of additional halts/stations. In the short term this could be achieved by realigning the timetable between Edinburgh/Glasgow to Aberdeen to provide the above service. It would, of course, require additional coaches and train crew

    The cost of pouring concrete in to the dubious scheme fo Union Terrace Gardens.would be more than enough to fund Aberdeen Crossrails implementation, so one does wonder what our illustrious politicians and bastions of industry are playing at. Common sense seems to have flown out the window. A partial solution to the city’s gridlock is staring them in the face.

    • Ron,

      I am in complete agreement with you. We are a city with the sea to the east and rivers to the north and south(stating the obvious I know) yet there is no political or industry lobby to do the sensible thing and create a modern integrated public transport system, based on rail and a proper support network to make it work for the benefit of all.

      Having briefly discussed this some years ago, with a local Labour MP, I was dismayed to find that such an idea was thought to be an impossible dream, such is the lack of ambition and imagination of those, of all political parties, who represent us. I therefore suspect that we are right not to hold our breath.

  2. I would go further than this: with the reopening of the Deeside line at least as far as Banchory if not Aboyne, the doubling of the Inverness Aberdeen line to enable a regular hourly service, and why stop at Ellon, Peterhead and The Broch, would seriously benefit from the economic boost a reopened railway would bring!! Turriff, Banff and Oldmeldrum could equally benefit from reconnection to the rail network….And electrify the lot!!!

    Let the wind turbines that now blight our countryside do something worthwhile!

    • Absolutely!

      What I fail to understand is, why the public are not actively clamouring for such a strategy. The benefits are obvious in the extreme. My only disagreement with you is that I feel the Deeside line could be re- opened as far as Ballater. There may be some difficulties, but none of them would be insurmountable.

  3. Opening the line to Peterhead would (in my opinion) reduce the congestion on the A90 & A952. Given that some hundreds of houses are being built at Mintlaw, and that, I would imagine, most of the occupants will end up commuting to Aberdeen, a park & ride rail scheme would be a good idea.

  4. It is not the 1950s. Almost anyone can now afford to buy and run a car and that is why the roads are congested. Train travel is inconvenient in comparison and not particularly good value anyway. The only way the congestion problem on the A90 between Aberdeen and Peterhead will be solved is by sorting out the A90 itself once and for all so that it can actually handle the volume of traffic thrown at it now, which is probably not going to change any time soon, railway or no railway.

    It may help reduce the freight traffic on the A90 in the long term, but that’s it…and we are talking about companies that have been used to using the roads for freight for more than 40 years now. It won’t stop one tractor taking the whole road down to a 25mph limit for miles at a time. Only another lane will do that. It won’t stop the tailbacks at the Ellon Road because no one will swap using their own warm car for a convoluted, multi stage journey in the freezing cold, and it won’t stop the tailbacks when the dual carriageway merges into a single lane at Balmedie because, guess what? Everyone will still just use their own car rather than stand waiting for a train in diagonal sleet in the name of freeing up the A90 for someone else to use in your place.

    Why waste years and hundreds of millions on half measures? Sort out the roads, move the North East forward – don’t try to resurrect an obsolete method of transport in the hope that it MIGHT help things A BIT. If you want to save the planet then why slap a great big (diesel) railway over the cycle path? It won’t save the planet and it will likely hardly make any difference to congestion. How long would people bother with the faff of (car, carpark, pay, station, wait in the rain, pay, train, wait in the freezing drizzle, pay, bus, walk in gale force winds) when they could just take their car that they already have and won’t be getting rid of anytime soon? Do you really think that Mr. Oil Industry in his V8 Audi with leather seats wants to rub shoulders with us sneezing plebs on the train instead?

    A road based solution is the only real one. The end.

    • Yes especially as the major destinations (eg airport & other new industrial areas) are being built a way away from rail infrastructure.

    • Not everybody can drive. It is unfair on us that these railways have been pulled out. And fifty passengers on a deisel train will always be more environmentally friendly than those same people in cars. How many cars on the street are electric? Plus there’s the damage of the batteries, and there’s still traffic congestion.

  5. If this comment isn’t out of time,! Your correspondents comments about rail being an obselete method of transport is itself an increasingly obsolete mind set in view of the vast increase in demand for rail travel! I would propose that if serious studies on a reinstatement of a future rail connection to both Peterhead and Fraserburgh are going to be initiated that a route onwards from the embryonic Ellon proposal could be to reinstate the former Boddam line ,extend it past Peterhead harbour into a new through rail head station for Peterhead and then reconnect into the former track bed towards Mintlaw and further consider new construction back into the former Maud to Fraserburgh rail route ,this could provide a future passenger service to both Peterhead and Fraserburgh using a single service and could perhaps stimulate the development of Peterhead harbour into a potentially viable container port ,land access of course permitting .It is well known that recent rail construction projects are carrying a huge price burden

    • (I inadvertently sent my comment unfinished!)..price burden vis a vis similar projects on the continent it is however encouraging that the Waverly reinstatement was good value,so it is to be anticipated that a Buchan rail reinstatement could be carried out with like diligence,in view of the current Oil industry hiatus Aberdeenshire towns could well do with such a stimulus which would not only provide future employment but signal that Peterhead and Faserburgh will have a forward looking future.!.,notwithstanding the current by pass project.

      • What’s more, if we built the line all the way to Peterhead and then to Fraserburgh, instead of then expanding Westwards from Peterhead only as far as Mintlaw, we could build all the way to Huntly to make a connection, thus creating a rail triangle.

        Yes, I know this post is 2 years out of date, but it is the first time I have really found anywhere where there are real supporters of reopening North Eastern railway lines.

  6. As a former resident of Aberdeen and Crathes, who walked the whole Deeside line in 1976, and has covered parts of the Formartine and Buchan Way despite shrill complaints from my better half; I hope my contribution to this debate will be accepted, despite my present domicile in England.
    The Deeside line was formerly very busy to Peterculter, markedly less busy to Banchory; and less busy again after that. I remember Alexander’s running double decker buses up to Ballater through summer; but holidaymakers and day trippers are not enough traffic to sustain a service all year round. Prospects for freight on Deeside would surely be very poor.
    The line through Ellon was notorious as a long way to get to Aberdeen – much longer than the equivalent roads. But again, commuters could benefit – especially if Schoolhill station was reopened.
    Schoolhill could provide somewhere to store trains between services if required. But it could make sense to reopen both lines together, offering the option of through journeys; and keeping the dwell time in Aberdeen station to a minimum.
    On another topic, how about a station at Nigg for office workers on the Altens estate? – or am I overstating the present importance of oil?

  7. Very late to see this post, but I think it is a madness that we have just one railway in the North East, and has such irregular services despite its importance! Scotrail and the Scottish Government seemingly don’t care about anywhere North of Dundee when it comes to transport. A line to Ellon would be beneficial, as would an extension right up to Fraserburgh, via Peterhead. As a massive transport enthusiast and local I have often looked into the rebuilding of lines in the area, and based on settlement size alone there would be enough passengers to keep lines running not only to Ellon, and up to Fraserburgh, but also on the Deeside line, at the very least to Banchory, certainly as far as Aboyne, and even to Ballater like it used to run is feasible seeing as the whole track section is largely intact thanks to the Deeside Railway, and tourism alone as well as the commute to town thanks to the oil industry would let the railway thrive. Even 4 services a day such as on the Kyle line would work out. Same goes for a line along the Moray and North Aberdeenshire costs between Elgin and Fraserburgh. Plenty of tourism and an abundance of population. There is sufficient demand in the area. The Borders Railway is a massive success, and Aberdeenshire has more population to be served and much more tourism. Anyone suggesting this wouldn’t work is either Tory to the core or completely deluded. At the very worst a tunnel section would have to be made on the Deeside line out of Aberdeen for a certain section, same potentially going for some other routes.

    With research I have drawn up I know that all these lines are sufficient. In Aberdeen new stations could and SHOULD be opened at Nigg Bay (especially now the new harbour is being built – yeah, we have money for that yet not new lines, funny that isn’t it?), Cove Bay and Newtonhill on the stretch to Laurencekirk, and potentially new stations opened at Kittybrewster, or Berryden, along the current line. It is sad that Dundee’s suburbs themselves have an abundance of stations, yet already nothing compared to Edinburgh and Glasgow. Just one station for Scotland’s third city and oil capital is nothing. Just one line going through it is nothing.

    Deeside Line, if it reopened, would surely stop at these settlements for a bare minimum:

    Peterculter – Population, quick commute into town
    Banchory – Population, essential shopping area for those in Upper Deeside
    Aboyne – Population, lots of commuters
    Ballater – Tourism and decently sized population.

    Ellon branch, as discussed, although with extension to Fraserburgh via Peterhead (with, admittedly, a slight deviation to the route proposed, but my ‘research’ suggests is perfectly feasible):

    Balmedie/Newmachar (depending on route used)
    Cruden Bay – Tourism, decent population and would serve large area
    Peterhead – Large population
    St Fergus – Lots of commuters, serves large rural area also
    Fraserburgh – Large population

    • Also to add that even despite the decline in the oil industry there are still, and will still be many commuters still needing to travel in, along with local residents and tourists. Had these lines be reopened 40,30,20, even 10 years ago they would have been doubly profitable. I find it pathetic that we can open stations on rural lines to Kyle and Mallaig that serve hunting lodges for the rich few, but can’t open stations in large population centres to serve many people.

      • I don’t think the SNP are keeping stations on Kyle and Mallaig lines open for hunting lodges given the policy on land reform.
        However the point stands that the lack of rail links in the NE is ridiculous. Especially when the other option (road improvement) will not happen either.
        Your proposal for a line going through Cruden Bay, PHD,St Fergus and FR makes perfect sense. The only real alteration might be trying to connect Mintlaw(although how practical it is I am not sure)
        What won’t fly is an Ellon P&R train for Broch/Phd etc. It has to include Buchan as well as Formartine.

  8. As a professional railway engineer, I am in complete agreement with the proposal to re -open the railway to Ellon : with few caveats: 1 A proper funding package with a robust business case. must be put in place to ensure that the plan is economically credible. 2 the new line must be built to suit the travel requirements of not only today but of the prospective travel needs of the latter part of the 21st century and early part of the 22nd Century. Long term planning is required if a project such as this is to be a success, we should also be looking to create a high voltage A.C. electrified railway network, (25K.V.olt,) in the North- East of Scotland as this will help to create sustainable economic growth in the region and help with the diversification of the regions’ economy in the long term. 3 We should not get hung up on saying we re-open certain lines we need to look at current transport network look at what the major issues are going to be in the future and plan any expansion and improvements to the network accordingly; long term transport planning is required in this region to sort out the current mess and we must include the distribution of traffic in the City of Aberdeen, with all options being on the table because if we improve the transport network outside the city, then these improvements will have a knock on effect on the city’s traffic. There is potential for rail expansion in the region but it must be planned on a proper business like basis.
    Stewart Prise Fyvie Aberdeenshire

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