Aberdeenshire councillors Paul Johnston and Martin Ford have welcomed support from sustainable transport charity Transform Scotland for the re-opening of the Buchan rail line to at least Ellon.
Writing to Councillors Johnston and Ford, Paul Tetlaw, rail spokesperson for Transform Scotland, said:
“In our view Aberdeen is very poorly served by rail and cities of comparable size in continental Europe would most likely enjoy a suburban rail network and some form of tram or metro system. So we would certainly support plans to re-open the railway from Dyce at least as far as Ellon.
“You are in the fortunate position that the former track bed is largely in local authority ownership. In contrast large parts of the Borders railway had been dispersed into multiple ownerships and it is estimated that as much as 40% of the cost of re-opening the Borders line was incurred through having to retrieve and suitably re-instate the sections of the route that had been lost.
“There are other lessons to be learned from the Borders line – and these may well have parallels for you. The passenger forecasts for the re-opened stations in the Borders were hopelessly pessimistic. Indeed it is probably true to say that of all the recent rail re-openings across the UK the projections for the stations at Tweedbank and Galashiels were by far the most inaccurate.
“Passenger numbers at Galashiels have in reality been five fold those projected while those at the Tweedbank park and ride site are ten fold the projections. Clearly such errors in the projections led to a poorer business case for the railway and politicians found themselves needlessly having to defend the case for the re-opening. Had the correct projections been used then it would have been clear to all concerned that the railway would be a great success and would be much welcomed by people in the Borders.
“The parallels that I would draw in your case are for potential stations in Ellon (Galashiels) and a park and ride beyond (Tweedbank). It is interesting to note that from day one the car park at Tweedbank has been full and overflowing – clearly demonstrating that people are quite prepared to drive in from surrounding towns and villages and then leave their car and take the train into the city.
“As a final point I would draw attention to the declared ambitions at both national and local government level to increase the use of public transport and decrease the reliance on the car. It is therefore clear that only a scheme that improves the public transport offering will deliver on these ambitions, any further road building will simply ensure yet greater car use with all the negative impacts on air quality, public health and congestion.”
Mr Tetlaw came to Aberdeen last week for a meeting with Nestrans but also met Cllr Ford and Cllr Johnston during his visit.
Cllr Martin Ford said:
“The very positive comments from Mr Tetlaw highlight that re-opening the Buchan line presents less of a difficulty than other lines where the track bed has been sold off piecemeal to multiple owners. Also, that we must not underestimate the potential for park-and-ride when forecasting likely levels of use.”
Cllr Paul Johnston said:
“The proposal to re-open the Buchan line to at least Ellon is gaining more and more support.”
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