Moray’s political leaders say that they were left “hugely encouraged” over the future of rail services through Moray after meeting with rail chiefs in Elgin last week.
Angus Robertson MP and his Holyrood colleague Richard Lochhead met with Network Rail’s Improvement Project Team to discuss plans for the Aberdeen to Inverness route.
A project of improvements costing anything between £250million and £500million is to be phased in through the life of the project, which is expected to be completed by 2030.
These will allow for a reduction in journey times over the entire route, a regular hourly timetable and the construction of two new stations including a new relocated station serving Forres.
Phase one of the package, announced last year by the First Minister, is a five-year project with a £170million budget that seeks to deliver the relocation of Forres station, a loop extension at Forres and platform extensions at Elgin and INsch stations that would trains with additional capacity to be used.
Following the meeting Richard Lochhead said: “Last March the First Minister announced these plans which will make a real difference to rail users from Moray, particularly commuters.
“It was very encouraging to hear of how Network Rail is going to deliver this package which will see visible changes here in Moray with platform extensions in Elgin to accommodate longer trains and a new, relocated station at Forres.
“I urged Network Rail to involve the community throughout the works and asked that they consider local apprenticeship opportunities.
“Physical improvements combined with increased peak services between Elgin and Inverness and more regular trains make for an exciting new phase in rail services; something that I know will come as welcome news to rail users in Moray, myself included!”
Angus Robertson added: “As a rail user I’m am acutely aware of the challenges faced by passengers on our trains and it is hugely encouraging to see such substantial investment on the Aberdeen to Inverness line.
“I took the opportunity at the meeting to highlight how critical a role connectivity plays in the efficiency of our rail services and welcomed Network Rail’s confirmation that they are working with Abellio, who take over the ScotRail contract from First Group in a little over a month.
“Joined up thinking is essential and I look forward to seeing the upgrades to the infrastructure of our crossing at Wards Road in Elgin and essential signalling upgrades which all contribute to an improved service for people in Moray.”