Experts insist Moray rail improvement costs are set to double

Cost of rail improvement works are reported to double.
Cost of rail improvement works are reported to be double their original estimate.

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.”