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Concerns highlighted that commitment to improve north-east rail services is under review

By Kyle Ritchie

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Concerns have been raised that a 2016 Scottish Government commitment to improve rail services is now “currently being reviewed”.

The Scottish Government committed to reducing journey times between Aberdeen and the Central Belt by 20 minutes, as part of a £200 million addition to the City Region Deal.

It was announced in January 2016 before the Scottish Parliament election of that year. However, the fund was originally committed for the same purpose in 2008.

Concerns have been raised about a commitment to improving rail services.
Concerns have been raised about a commitment to improving rail services.

MSPs on Holyrood’s net zero, energy and transport committee heard environment minister Mairi Macallan say her transport colleague Fiona Hyslop is “currently considering within the context of the funding that's available, the rail enhancements that will be able to be taken forward in the coming years.”

MSP for the North East, Douglas Lumsden, said “plenty of people in the north-east will be alarmed by what we've just heard.”

On Tuesday, he received written responses to questions on the fund, which stated the 2024-25 budget allocation for the Aberdeen – Central Belt Journey Time Improvement Project will be made “in the coming months before the end of the current financial year”.

Mr Lumsden, who formerly sat on the city region deal panel as city council co-leader, said later: “The SNP have had years to deliver this project but are incapable of even hitting a self-imposed deadline.

“In 16 years, just a little over £6 million has been spent on a vital part of our link between the north-east and the central belt.

"We’ve heard about this money from successive governments during repeated election campaigns, and nothing has transpired.

“The Minister today knew full well you can’t commit to something you’ve already binned.

“The people of Aberdeen and the wider north-east will want answers from the SNP Government about yet another knife in the back.”

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