Railway comments a ‘cheap shot’

A train on the original Formartine and Buchan railway line
A train on the original Formartine and Buchan railway line

North East politicians have branded claims by a Lib Dem MSP regarding future proposals for a Buchan Railway link as a “cheap shot”.

It comes after Mike Rumbles claimed former Gordon MP Alex Salmond had made “empty promises” during the election last month.

He said: “Peterhead was promised a dual carriageway within a year in 2007 and that doesn’t seem to have happened either.

“Transport is a devolved matter and as such is the responsibility of the SNP Scottish Government. It is disappointing that even their former leader cannot drag his party’s attentions away from the central belt.”

But SNP representatives have now hit back highlighting at least two meetings have been held with the Scottish Government regarding the matter in the past six months.

The success of the Borders Railway, which opened in 2015, has also been highlighted as evidence of the success which similar additional infrastructure could have in the North East.

The original Formartine and Buchan railway line was opened in 1861 to provide a link between Fraserburgh, Peterhead and Aberdeen.

It finally closed in 1979 and the tracks were lifted after pleas to the then UK Conservative Government to mothball the line for possible future use fell on deaf ears.

The £358 million Borders Railway, which runs from Edinburgh to Tweedbank, carried 125,000 passengers in its first month and over 500,000 passengers in its first four months of operation, boosting local economies in what has been heralded as a majorly successful infrastructural investment.

Councillor Stephen Smith said: “Mike Rumbles is making cheap shots. He’s clearly unaware the initial process on this was started some time ago following pressure from SNP councillors.

“A study is being conducted by Nestrans - a body which is chaired by his Liberal Democrat colleague Peter Argyle. Work is indeed happening, but it needs to be fully assessed and worked up by the transportation partnership so a business case can be put forward to the Scottish Government.

Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin said: “Last year North East representatives including myself and Stewart Stevenson MSP met with Humza Yousaf to discuss the very issue of transport links and the impact restoration of rail links could have in boosting the local and regional economies.

“Mike Rumbles is correct – the region does need better – which is exactly why we have been getting on with the day job and working hard to meet with the Scottish Government and the Transport Minister. There is also a joint resolution for the SNP conference in October calling for a Buchan rail link from the constituency associations of Donside, Aberdeenshire East and Banffshire and Buchan Coast submitted to the SNP conference.”