Sep 162016

East Garioch councillor Martin Ford.

With thanks to Martin Ford.

Campaigners in favour of re-opening the Buchan line railway at least as far as Ellon are demanding that fair forecasts of passenger numbers are used to evaluate the projected benefits of rebuilding the line.
In response to the announcement that the re-opened Borders railway has carried its first million passengers in its first year of operation, East Garioch councillor Martin Ford commented:

“There must be no bias against re-opening the rail line to Ellon or beyond in the evaluation of future transport options for the Fraserburgh/Peterhead/Ellon/Aberdeen transport corridor,”

While the verified passenger numbers for the whole of the first year of operation are not yet available, it is clear the re-opened Borders line is far busier than the forecast levels of use predicted when re-opening was being considered.

“The passenger numbers using rail stations and lines that have re-opened have generally been above – often well above – the forecast numbers used to decide whether the re-opening was a value-for-money investment,” said Cllr Ford.

“Essentially, the predictions of passenger use have been, pretty consistently, far too pessimistic.”

The North East of Scotland Transport Partnership (Nestrans) reports that following re-opening passenger numbers at Laurencekirk station were more than double the projected usage.

“The pessimism in the forecasting of expected use amounts to a bias against rail re-openings and risks seeing proposed schemes blocked when they would be successful,” said Cllr Ford.

“Fortunately the Borders line re-opening went ahead anyway despite the poor forecasts of passenger numbers. But hopes for re-opening the Buchan line must not be put at risk by underestimating its attractiveness to passengers.”

Cllr Ford and Mid-Formartine councillor Paul Johnston have now written to Nestrans director Derick Murray seeking assurances that better methods of predicting passenger numbers will be used to quantify the expected benefits of re-opening the Buchan line railway to Ellon or beyond.

“The business case for re-opening the railway, as opposed to other options, must not be unfairly damaged by underestimating the number of people who would opt to travel by train if that choice was available,” said Cllr Paul Johnston.

“No-one expects passenger number forecasts to be exactly correct every time. But the pattern of repeated underestimates strongly suggests the methods being used are not accurately reflecting actual behaviour. So lessons must be learnt from the success of the Borders line re-opening and revised methods for forecasting expected passenger use applied in future.

“The desire to bring back the Buchan line must not be derailed by faulty forecasts,”
Cllr Ford Added:
“There is every reason to believe a re-opened railway to Ellon would be a great success.”
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May 272016

Martin Ford Kintore3With thanks to Martin Ford.

East Garioch councillor Martin Ford is delighted that Aberdeenshire Council’s Garioch Area Committee is to decide this Tuesday (31 May) on supporting a funding bid to the Scottish Stations Fund for the proposed station at Kintore.

Cllr Ford has been campaigning for a new station at Kintore for many years.

He said:

“Assembling the funding package to enable a Kintore station to be built is clearly an essential step towards delivering that goal. And an application to the Scottish Stations Fund has always been seen as a key element in the expected overall funding mix.”

The report to the Garioch Area Committee highlights the strength of the business case for building a station at Kintore.

Cllr Martin Ford said:

“There is a very strong case for prioritising the proposed Kintore station for funding. All the investigative studies have concluded a station at Kintore will be well used, with a good benefit:cost ratio.

“A station at Kintore looks like a sound investment and good value for money.”

Cllr Ford has also welcomed some new and updated information relating to the planned delivery of the new station.

“In the emerging timetable, it looks like there will be 3–4 trains per hour serving Kintore,” said Cllr Ford.

“And to fit with the overall construction strategy for the upgrading works being undertaken along the line, the planned opening date for the new station at Kintore has been brought forward slightly – from March 2019 to December 2018. This is certainly good news.”

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Feb 042016

Alex-Salmond-MP-MSPthm-Credit-SNP-AberdeenshireWith thanks to Tom Collins, Press Officer, Rt. Hon. Alex Salmond MP MSP

MSP for Aberdeenshire East, Alex Salmond, has welcomed a response from Transport Minister Derek Mackay MSP on Monday (1 February 2016) informing him that Network Rail are progressing well with rail improvements between Aberdeen and Inverness.

The 108-mile route is set to benefit from a £170 million upgrade which will include platform extensions, signalling enhancements and the re-doubling of the line between Aberdeen and Inverurie.

Mr Salmond had also raised the issue of the need to mitigate for flooding along the line, to reduce the risk of disruption to services.

In his response, Mr Mackay said:

“The project remains on target for completion by March 2019, and within the spending cap.

“With regard to flood mitigation, Network Rail is working with industry partners to make Scotland’s rail infrastructure more resilient to the current and predicted weather and climate change impacts across the network. This should help to ensure that efficient and reliable train services are maintained, including those between Aberdeen and Inverness.”

Mr Salmond said:

“The upgrading of this service is good news for the people of the North East and will ensure that the full potential of the corridor of prosperity between Aberdeen and Inverness will be realised quickly and efficiently. I met with representatives of Network Rail last month, and I am pleased that their work remains on schedule.

“The redoubling of the line between Inverurie and Aberdeen, alongside the new station at Kintore will only serve to enhance these benefits of this essential transport link and help bring new people and opportunities to our local communities and what they offer.”

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Sep 052014

Elaine Pirie is involved with numerous issues concerning animal welfare, more often than not centring on canines. Her dogged determination across a host of initiatives and issues is impressive. By Suzanne Kelly.

elaine dogs 1Elaine and I meet appropriately at BrewDog; she arrives with two marvellous rescued pooches, which are well received. Her knowledge of dogs is only surpassed by her clear passion for them. She is involved and has been for many years with charities, campaigns, welfare issues. After we yapped for a while, several themes, issues and organisations came to the fore.

The Dog Walkers Association:

Aberdeen Dog Walkers Association is a collective of dog walking professionals who seek to implement standards of care, in order to safeguard the well-being of dogs, and let pet owners know what service and level of care they should be getting when entrusting a beloved animal to a relative stranger. Elaine has been involved with Pamela Rutherford to get the association up and running.

Elaine said:

“We have also recently been contacted by another group, the Scottish Dog Walkers Association and we hope to really get things moving now with their help and involvement. Pamela also runs the Pets Info North east Facebook page.”

More can be learnt about this organisation, events, shows, talks and more here.

Walking The Dog:

People who can’t leave work, people with health or mobility problems, busy people need to know they can rely on a professional, reliable dog walker to take care of their pet when they can’t do so. Elaine told me about the Aberdeen Dog Walkers Association, which has a code of ethics for dog walkers.

This includes any van having separate crates/kennels/spaces for individual dogs should a walker take out more than one animal at a time. Elaine explained an unfortunate story of a weak dog left in the back of a van with other dogs. The outcome was fatal. If you are going to use a service, make certain they are insured at the very least; dog walkers in this scheme will not take more than 6 dogs out at a time, and will look after their welfare.

As an aside, walking your dog should be a chance for you and your pet to enjoy each other’s company, to exercise, to spend time together. When a dog wants to stop and sniff something, why not let it do so. When a dog is doing its business, wait patiently until it has finished – don’t start dragging it away. And by all means, obey the law and clean up after your dog.

Don’t leave your dog alone in a vehicle:

Elaine is among other things a professional dog walker, and while you might think that must be a simple thing to do, it requires knowledge and attention to detail as well as an overriding dedication to animal welfare. (I mentioned a tragic case from Canada – a dog walker who would take multiple dogs for walks reported them stolen one day. After a while she confessed: she forgot about her charges, left them in her van – and as dogs do in vehicles which may not seem hot to you – all of them died).

elaine dogs 3Like so many other people, she was only going to leave the dogs for a little bit of time: she got involved with other things; she forgot them. She didn’t think it was too hot: it was for animals that do not sweat and therefore can’t cool down any car, however comfortable to you or to me, can be a killer.

She didn’t think a few minutes (which turned into a few hours) could do any harm.

Every person who winds up killing their pet dog when it dies in a car has the same story.

This is one of the reasons that the Scottish SPCA has issued the advice: do not leave your dog alone in a car, truck or van. End of. There is another worrying reason not to leave your dog unattended in public, a reason that is increasing in frequency.

Dog theft:

Elaine and I discussed many anecdotes, including the guide dog ‘Tess’ which ‘went missing’ in Nairn. Coincidentally, a leading animal charity informed me that at the same time in the same area, 3 horses were stolen.

Dog thefts are a reality and they are increasingly frequent. In our area, dogs have mysteriously disappeared from back gardens (police theorise the garden gates weren’t shut or the dogs opened them – claims owners disagree with). The Police did issue a warning about thefts of dogs tied up in front of stores, malls and supermarkets. Tess is a curly coated black retriever and is micro chipped.

If she just went missing, she will still have her guide dog collar and harness on. If you see the dog or have any ideas where she might be, call 0800 6888 409.

On Aberdeen Beach a man was letting his dog run around without being on a lead; a stranger appeared from a sand dune, and started waving food at the dog; the dog went for it.

When the owner finally got to the scene, the stranger was trying to take the dog, using the excuse he somehow thought it was his dog. The owner got a description of the man who quickly made off. Going to the local police, you might have thought there would have been an investigation or even a report made. The police told the owner since nothing was stolen, they were not interested.

If anyone knows anything about animal theft, please get in touch with the Scottish SPCA on 03000 999 999 – and do let Aberdeen Voice know as well.

Lost or stolen dog? Act immediately:

If you lose your dog – let’s hope it’s not been stolen, and let’s hope it is micro chipped – call your vet and local vets, and let them know. I found a dog a month ago at the Cove Bay roundabout; while I put details of it on the Lost and Found pets Aberdeen City and Shire Facebook page, my colleague called the two nearest vets: one of them had just been called by the frantic owners.

Dog and owners were soon reunited. Micro chipping does help reunite lost pets and owners. Leave flyers in the area where the animal went missing; conduct thorough searches – cats especially wander into buildings/sheds which are then locked behind them.

elaine dogs 2Stolen pets wind up in a variety of situations –some are used for breeding – and illegal puppy mills mean money for unscrupulous people and lots of suffering for bitches and puppies. Exhausted, badly treated bitches are kept pregnant; the pups are sold as soon as they can be for large sums in some cases.
Some stolen animals are sold on websites such as Gum tree (which should know better, but that’s another story).

And some have a far worse fate.

If you see any lost or stray animals, try and rescue them if you can do so safely. If not, call the Scottish SPCA. Animals are being abandoned by people who simply get tired of them, who have no idea how to cope with illnesses or behaviour issues, or who have problems continuing to afford pets.

There is no excuse for dumping a pet at a roadside, in a box, in a park: domestic animals do not fend for themselves; they will be cold, hungry and frightened – and nothing good can come of it. Call someone to get help with your problems – don’t make your pet suffer for your lack of ability to cope.

Help is again available from many sources; start with some of the Facebook links in this article, or call the Scottish SPCA. Do not leave your animal alone to fend for itself.

Dog Fighting:

Dog fighting is real, it is increasing, and it happens in Aberdeen city and shire.

Dog fighting is – obviously barbaric and illegal. It is also a means for some dangerous, cruel people to make a quick bit of money. The dogs are forced to fight against their nature by torture. They are forced to exercise until they drop; bitches are used for breeding and then discarded / killed when exhausted. Smaller dogs, cats and other animals are fed to starved would-be fighting dogs to give them a blood lust.

A woman approached a man in Kincorth some years back; he had been walking a Staffordshire pit bull terrier. She told him he could make good money by fighting his dog. An anti dog-fighting campaign led to a tip off that dog fighting not only takes place in ‘the Gramps’ in Aberdeen, but indoors in parts of Torry.

If you know anything and do nothing about it, you are guilty of serious cruelty. If you think dogs like to fight, they most definitely do not. If you hear any dogs or animals crying in pain anywhere, please call the Scottish SPCA.

To avoid your animal getting caught up in this horrendous crime, do not leave them alone in public, get them micro chipped, keep an eye on cats, and report any suspicious activities.

Let’s not forget that a few years ago, two men in the north part of the city held down a girl’s pet cat, and encouraged a dog with them to savage it. Let’s not forget that a dead dog was found inside a suitcase in Torry which had been badly treated and starved. Let’s not forget that a dog with injuries was found in the city.

they want to and need to fit into your family to be well adjusted

It would be nice if the police led the way with an awareness campaign, but that’s not happening. If you want to distribute flyers in your area, get in touch with Aberdeen Voice, and we will send you some.

And if you want a pet? Please don’t contribute to the suffering involved in puppy mills; please take an animal that is already here – adopt.

Dog Rescue Charities:

Elaine Pirie supports and volunteers with ‘Friends of Bianca’ a Portuguese charity caring for and rehoming strays. Strays are a huge problem the world over; Elaine’s advice for every pet owner? ‘Fix your dog!’ Neutering your animal can help the growing problem of strays.

Elaine’s charity in Portugal is careful about rehoming animals, but she is concerned that so many foreign dog rehoming charities do no follow up. In fact, Elaine advises that many dogs rescued from overseas charities wind up unwanted and abandoned in the UK.

“People receive animals from abroad and then are dumping them here – or are not given a support network in the UK.”

The idea of owning a dog (or any pet for that matter) may be appealing – but if you don’t have the time and patience to make sure it is well trained, that you will feed it adequate portions of dog food, that you will exercise it and make it part of your family, then don’t get one. Dogs are pack animals; they want to and need to fit into your family to be well adjusted.

Studies have shown that dogs left along for long periods of time in a house spend most of that time by the door, awaiting the return of the owner.

If you are one of those people who think that you get a dog, chain it in your back yard and leave it alone, please think twice about doing anything so cruel and, well, nasty. Why get one if you don’t want to be with it? The Scottish SPCA is constantly rescuing neglected animals who are treated this way; again if you know of a dog which is neglected, underfed, badly treated, the Scottish SPCA wants to know about it.


Dogs require patient, kind and consistent training. There is never, ever a need to hit any animal. Your tone of voice, your commands will be all that a dog needs to know it has behaved badly – if you use one of the area’s excellent dog training services.

We unfortunately have a problem of people owning dogs, often status symbol powerful breeds, which have no idea how to control or train them: the many stories of children and adults mauled by dogs will often have bad training at the root.

This is not training; this is cruel bullying

We also have cases of dogs attacking other dogs in Aberdeen city parks. Guide dogs have even been attacked.

Avoid gimmicky trainers. The so-called ‘Mexican dog whisperer’ has been outed: he uses cruel electric shocks and spike chokers to get his ‘magical results’. The electrical shock devices are the same thing used by dog fighting gangs to get the dogs to attack other dogs.

The spike chokers consist of having two metal rods jab your dog in their throat every time you pull the leash. Neither item has any purpose other than to hurt and make a dog obey out of pain and fear. This is not training; this is cruel bullying. Campaigns are being waged to stop the sale of all such torture devices.

But enough of the bad stuff, back to the happy side of having a dog.

Dog Events:

Having a dog might be work – but it is also potentially a great way to have fun and keep fit. There are many charity walks, obedience competitions and dog and owner days out to be found in the city and shire. Next month there will be a fly ball event in Seaton Park. Dogs train to jump over hurdles and retrieve balls; it’s competitive – but the emphasis is on fun.

Friends of Bianca (a registered Scottish Charity) will have a fun walk on 28 September From Westburn Park on the Deeside Railway line.

Pet Information North East is another resource for information about dogs, dog-related events and talks, and to communicate with other dog owners.

Elaine’s two dogs are ready for home; another dog has entered BrewDog, and the excitement is just too much for this pair. Elaine takes her leave.

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May 092014

By Duncan Harley.a4 steam inverurie 17

Inverurie’s historic connection with steam was recalled at the weekend when the LNER Class A4 4488 Union of South Africa stopped at Inverurie Railway Station, en-route south via Aberdeen and Stonehaven, following a week long rail tour of
the UK.

Built for the London and North East Railway Company in 1937, the streamlined green liveried steam locomotive pulled in at Platform One for a one hour stop to allow both rail enthusiasts and interested passers by an opportunity to admire a potent symbol of a bygone age.

Originally operating from Edinburgh’s Haymarket, this engine later transferred to Aberdeen and hauled the last passenger steam train from Kings Cross on 24th October 1964 before finally being withdrawn from British Railways service in 1966. A similar locomotive the “Mallard” holds the world steam engine speed record having clocked over 125mph (202 km/h) in 1938.

The Union of South Africa’s passengers on Saturday were enjoying the nine day “Great Britain VII” rail tour run by the Railway Touring Company. Leaving London Victoria on April 26th the steam tour had made its way north via Beattock Summit, Mallaig and the Glenfinnan Viaduct of Harry Potter fame before returning via Inverurie to London’s King’s Cross Station on May 4th.

Comfortably seated in Pullman style coaches many passengers were railway enthusiasts and indeed on one carriage window a sign had been posted which read “Caution, this Train Contains Nuts.”

As one traveller explained:

“This is a chance for railway buffs to live out the dream of travelling in the steam age and a sense of humour, as well as an interest in the rolling stock, is essential.”

a4 steam inverurie 7

LNER Class A4 4488 Union of South Africa at Inverurie Railway Station – Credit: Duncan Harley.

It’s hardly surprising that enthusiasts hark back to a golden age when trains not only transported folk around the country, but did so in some style.

Saturday’s visit by the Union of South Africa certainly drew crowds, although one concerned local had seemingly been drawn to attend only because he assumed that the plume of smoke emanating from the station signified a train on fire.

He soon joined excited onlookers however and, after pulling out his phone, began sending pictures to all and sundry.

There are over 100 heritage railways currently operating in the UK including Aberdeenshire’s Alford Valley Narrow Gauge Railway and The Royal Deeside Railway near Banchory. If a nine rail day trip is beyond your reach then perhaps a day trip on a local scenic railway could fill in a very pleasant summer afternoon.

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Mar 092012

With thanks to Dave Macdermid.

Aberdeen Snowsports Centre Instructor Training is a course designed to take applicants from recreational level participant to that of professional instructor in six weeks.
The training is geared toward creating employment in the growing snowsports industry locally and further afield.

The course will be held at Garthdee on Tuesdays from 5th May and it’s open to competent, knowledgeable skiers and snowboarders over 16 with an outgoing personalities and a willingness to learn.

Successful candidates will be able to become instructors at the Centre or develop their career within the National Recognised system.

This will be the centre’s fourth course delivered by highly-experienced qualified full time coaches, this time offering a revised syllabus covering personal performance improvement as well as teaching and instructional techniques.

It’s a fantastic opportunity for anyone looking for a new career or experience in the snowsports industry and a rare chance to train locally rather than undertaking expensive tuition abroad. Previous participants have gone on to train further and live the dream of instructing abroad. The course has proved popular with working professionals who enjoy the release of instructing after a hard day at the office.

Past successful trainees include:

Neil Cameron (39), Casual Snowboard Instructor

“I was a nervous applicant and was persuaded to come on the course by the guys at Aberdeen Snowsports Centre.  The tuition was excellent and really improved my riding enabling me to understand how to use my board better and definitely made me a more accomplished rider. The skills given to me on the rookie course made the BASI Level 1 much easier and now I have the fun of teaching others to ride”

Jody Taylor (33), Casual Ski Instructor

“Through training on the Rookie Course last year the coaches have taken me from being able to get down a mountain to turning me into a skier. I now not only work at the slopes frequently, I met a great bunch of people along the way and the course has boosted my confidence no end!”

Joe Service (26), Casual Snowboard Instructor

“The snowboard rookie course is a great opportunity to develop your skills as a rider, develop your social life as a rider, and develop at the Centre as an instructor with the on-going instructor training.”

Further details and application forms are available from Aberdeen Snowsports Centre or online at:

The deadline for application is Friday 6 April.

Jun 242011

“Which of our conflicting transport demands are most important?” asks Jonathan Hamilton Russell in this edit of his longer article, written to encourage debate on the future of personal and freight travel in NE Scotland.

Scotland has extremely ambitious climate change targets, yet we prioritise airport expansion and roadbuilding.

The NE economy needs transport infrastructure to allow movement of goods; people have to get to work with few holdups.

Meeting climate change targets means embracing sustainable transport usage by reducing car, road freight and air travel yet Aberdeen Airport has the fastest-growing passenger numbers in Scotland; public transport is the only option for many, but the majority are wedded to car use. Among Scottish cities Aberdeen car count is highest; Aberdeenshire has the highest rural area car usage; increasingly, Aberdeenshire residents drive to work in Aberdeen, exaggerating traffic bottlenecks.

Public spending cuts mean local and national governments face stark financial choices affecting resources for maintaining and enhancing transport infrastructures.

The days of cheap petrol have passed. Prices will continue to rise.

Bus fares are higher here than throughout Scotland.  Southbound buses are often of poor quality although local buses are of a high standard, and Aberdeen citizens, on average, are nearer bus stops than other Scottish cities’ residents.

Bus use in Aberdeenshire can be problematic, but could be increased by driving to stops and transferring to buses – less stressful than car travel. Council cuts to services for the disabled and elderly have made travelling significantly more challenging for such socially-excluded groups.

What can we do?

There’s general agreement that people should be encouraged to travel more sustainably. Cycling activity is increasing, although levels are lower than elsewhere in Scotland, and it needs to be encouraged as a healthy, environmentally-friendly activity.

Cycle pools, common in many European cities, could be created. Cycle routes to school, given priority, would provide more fun and health benefits for children than car travel. Cycle safety measures would need to be put in place, particularly at roundabouts, to make them less dangerous.

Park and ride schemes, particularly at Kingswells, are less successful than envisaged but remain a commuting option. Car-sharing, whilst becoming more common, is far from the norm. NESTRANS, responsible for planning and transport implementation, has suggested piloting car-share lanes.

Laurencekirk railway station has re-opened, but more stops are needed, possibly at Kittybrewster and Altens. The Haudagain roundabout obviously needs improving, with priority for cyclists, buses and car-sharing.

A new Bridge of Dee is needed – contribution to its cost from that area’s large retailers might have been written into the conditions when planning consent was agreed. Any new development should prioritise cycles, buses and car-sharing.

Aberdeen is a fairly small city and walking should always be marketed as a healthy, cheap and quick transport option.

Traffic lights in pedestrian high-use areas should give priority to pedestrians. 20 mph restrictions have improved safety, although limits are regularly broken by a minority of drivers.

Offering flexible working hours is effective in reducing peak-time traffic levels. Salary benefits for those cycling or car-sharing could be introduced, with car pools for staff who have to drive during  work time. Working at home, for at least part of the week, is an option as is business conferencing rather than travelling to meetings. Both would reduce business costs.

it is well-documented that increased road space leads to increased traffic

Will the increased price of petrol reduce car use enough, or do we need to introduce road pricing, viewed as the single measure most likely to effect change to how we travel? The increased motoring costs would make drivers consider alternatives.

Aberdeen would almost certainly benefit, reducing the numbers moving to Aberdeenshire as extra travel costs outweigh housing cost savings.  It is a hot potato, however, and would be unpopular due to the high levels of car use locally. Few politicians would have the courage to suggest its introduction, despite being effective in reducing car  dependency.

We also need to identify new means of financing transport developments and to maintain the current deteriorating infrastructure. Road pricing could raise those funds.

Some planning decisions have encouraged car use. Union Square adjoins both bus and rail terminals but it has also provided increased parking opportunities.

 It has had a detrimental commercial effect on Union Street, George Street and Bon Accord Centre shops, all more accessible by bus.

The proposed Union Terrace development would increase city centre car parking availability, flying in the face of the need to reduce car travel and move towards more sustainable transport methods.

All measures have advocates and opponents. The Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR) for example, highlights conflicting views and interests.  Newton Dee Village fought an effective campaign to stop the road encroaching on that community; Road Sense has successfully raised legal objections, forcing public inquiries, even if of limited scope.

The AWPR has both advantages and disadvantages. It would help take freight off Aberdeen’s roads although significant volumes still have to come in and out of Aberdeen.

It would reduce travel times although there are other bottlenecks further south. It would reduce congestion at the Haudagain roundabout and Bridge of Dee, but it is well-documented that increased road space leads to increased traffic. Roads in general will become more congested.

The AWPR would help businesses. It will allow more people to live outside Aberdeen as it will be quicker, at least initially, to travel into Aberdeen but will lead to an increasingly-ageing city population.

Such demographic change will leave Aberdeen City Council with less money and greater demands on resources. An excellent deal has been negotiated in terms of local authorities’ contributions, with the Scottish Government meeting 82% of costs. These, however, have already escalated and impending substantial expenditure cuts will leave less money in the overall pot.

The low level of rail freight uptake is a national scandal. Road freight transport’s perceived flexibility sees it preferred.  Historically, there were conflicts with rail unions, who, however, are now keen for freight to move to rail. This will need increased public and private investment, less likely in a period of reduced public spending, although in terms of providing work and kick-starting the economy this option should not be ruled out. This also applies to the AWPR.

There would need to be contracts developed between the Freight Transport Association, the Road Haulage Association, rail companies, unions and government at all levels.

The replacement of the freight terminal by Union Square was a setback for future local rail freight capacity.

New freight facilities have been introduced at Craiginches and at Rathes Farm but this has not increased capacity. There are sea/rail links at Waterloo Quay and freight yards at Inverurie and Huntly. NESTRANS strategy states that development of new open-access freight terminals could be explored and if transferring freight to rail becomes reality, new depots would be needed.

Aberdeen harbour is an excellent freight facility and passenger transport gateway to Orkney and Shetland, with potential to expand both services. Currently five million tonnes of freight are exported through the harbour, but the loss of rail freight infrastructure in the station interchange area was a lost opportunity to link sea freight with rail.

We have to decide on our priorities.

Are we really concerned about climate change?

Can we move towards more community-based forms of travel from those currently privatised?

Do we want a more healthy society that walks and cycles more?

Can our business needs dovetail with our environmental needs?

Is it possible to think more holistically when making planning decisions?

Aberdeen Voice would welcome contributions to this debate.

Image credits:

RAILWAY JUNCTION © Davidmartyn |
UTG DENBURN © Mike Shepherd