A MAJOR STEP forward has been taken in upgrading plans for the Aberdeen to Inverness rail link through Moray.
The Scottish Government has announced that a principal contractor has been appointed to put in place a long promised £170million upgrade. Passengers are being told that they can expect the introduction of a half-hourly service on the route between Aberdeen and Inverurie – with additional peak services between Inverness and Elgin.
BAM, which recently completed the on-time, on-budget £294m Borders Railway, will now oversee the delivery of the Aberdeen-Inverness Improvement Project – the first phase of which is due for completion in 2019.
They are promising that over the next four years their engineers will provide a new double-track over the 16 miles between Aberdeen and Inverurie, build a new station at Forres, extend the platforms at Elgin and Insch, upgrade signalling systems throughout the route and install infrastructure to allow new stations to be created at Dalcross and Kintore.
Keith Brown, the Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities, said: “I am pleased to witness the award of the contract to BAM for the first phase of the Aberdeen to Inverness Improvement Project. Today marks the Scottish Government’s landmark investment package of £170m to improve a key route connecting both northern cities, which will make journeys shorter, more frequent and more comfortable for those who use this important line regularly.
“This project is especially valuable for the region for, as well as the clear benefits to passengers and freight users, it will also support jobs and growth, providing an economic boost to the cities and communities along the entire length of the route.”
Phil Verster, managing director of the ScotRail Alliance, said: “BAM’s appointment is the first step on a journey that will deliver significant benefits for the North and North East of Scotland.
“Reduced journey times and the ability to run bigger trains with more seats will transform customers’ experience of rail travel. This is what the ScotRail Alliance is all about – connecting people with jobs, businesses with customers, and giving communities across Scotland the opportunity to grow and prosper.
Engineers are currently carrying out ground investigation, site survey and vegetation clearance works on the line as part of the project and main construction works will begin in spring next year.
Plans for new stations at Dalcross and Kintore are being developed separately by HITRANS and NESTRANS respectively, while a further phase of the Aberdeen-Inverness Improvements Project is to be developed