PROMISES OF VAST improvements in rail services through Moray are coming under threat from spiralling costs according to a report by accountancy experts Ernst and Young.
The Scottish Government has promised a raft of improvements on the line, with preparatory work already under way for a new station at Forres and extended platform at Elgin.
Ultimately the much-heralded improvement programme is being used to soothe growing anger over the quality of service on the Aberdeen to Inverness line – however, according to Ernst and Young the projected cost of the project will be closer to £330million than the £170million quoted.
While the Scottish Government are challenging the accuracy of the figures from the accountancy firm, Scottish Labour’s transport spokesman, Neil Bibby, has leapt on them as a reason why commuters should be concerned.
He said: “Passengers have already faced months of disruption – commuters will rightly be concerned not only by the rising cost of fares but the increasing cost of the rail infrastructure works.
“It is clear this is the latest in a long list of transport failures that has happened on the SNP’s watch, many rail passengers will no longer believe the SNP’s claim to be a competent government.”
Responding to the claims a spokeswoman for the Scottish Government insisted that they had repeatedly requested devolved control of Network Rail in Scotland: “Scottish ministers and passengers up and down the country quite rightly have high expectations of our railway.
“At the heart of our £5billion programme of improvements is an underlying need to provide best value for the public purse while delivering a first-class service. This includes the Aberdeen to Inverness improvements, for which increased costs and programme are subject to ongoing challenge by Transport Scotland.”