Moray business and leisure rail users will benefit form a £170million rail investment on the Aberdeen to Inverness route confirmed by the Scottish Government on Friday.
Journey times will be cut and frequency of trains increased while the station at Forres will be relocated with a ‘loop’ extension added to the track, while long-promised new stations at Dalcross and Kintore will go ahead.
A platform extension to Elgin Station will also allow six-coach trains to stop there, while there will also be signalling improvements made at Moray’s main station on the route.
David Dickson, Network Rail acting route managing director for Scotland, said: “Increasing capacity across the network and offering passengers a wider range of services is a key priority for Network Rail and we look forward to working with the Scottish Government to deliver this much-needed enhancement of the line.”
The improvement plans were welcomed by Moray’s MSP, Richard Lochhead, who said: “The planning for this complex set of works is nearing an end and we can expect to see work beginning to deliver a massive boost for Moray with these rail improvements.
“Increasing capacity on the line will ultimately deliver an hourly service between Inverness and Aberdeen, quicker journey times and station and track improvements including a station extension in Elgin, improved signalling and a new loop at Forres.
“The work being done outwith Moray is also significant, particularly the development of infrastructure to enable a station to be built at Inverness Airport – a hugely significant link for Moray.
“This is critical and substantial infrastructure investment that will future proof Moray’s rail services and give is a much more resilient rail service that delivers for residents and businesses in Moray.”
Announcing the investment Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond said: “It is a really important investment on this line, we are spending money to redouble the track between Aberdeen and Inverurie – which has been single track since the 1960’s.
“Currently the station at Forres is on a bend and the relocation allows bigger trains to stop there and also enables faster journey times.”