Campaigners seeking to re-establish a North-east rail link have been given a boost.
According to new figures just published, the number of passengers using Laurencekirk railway station are around two and a half times greater than forecast.
I strongly believe there is a demand for a rail link to serve the Buchan areaCouncillor Rob Merson Ellon and District
Statistics show that 92,470 passengers used the new station at Laurencekirk in 2012/13.
When building the business case for re-opening the station, which was closed as part of the Beeching cuts, it was thought 36,000 passengers annually would be a realistic figure.
Now, councillors campaigning for a rail link to Buchan have said the Laurencekirk figures prove that there is a demand for such a service in the North-east and that if it is provided, people will use it.
Ellon and District SNP Councillor Rob Merson said: “I’m delighted to hear that Laurencekirk Station has been so successful in the short time it has been open.
“I strongly believe there is a demand for a rail link to serve the Buchan area.
“Not only would this be transformational in terms of giving the area improved connections to the rest of the country – which is important if we are to attract people to fill job vacancies in this area such as teachers and GPs – but it would remove vehicles from our roads, be good for the environment, and enable swifter journey times to the city.”
Peterhead South and Cruden SNP councillor Stephen Smith added: “This is great news for those who worked so long to secure the re-opening of Laurencekirk Station and vindicates their efforts.
“It is clear evidence that if the North-east public are given the opportunity to travel by rail to and from their own locality, they will seize that opportunity.
“It adds considerable weight to the campaign to re-establish a rail link to Buchan which would have the added benefits of speeding up people’s journey times to Aberdeen and also bypass the traffic bottlenecks at Bridge of Don and the parking problems of the city centre.”
Calls have been mounting for a reopening of the line to ease traffic on the busy A90.