Park and ride could boost case for rail

Could a park and ride option help bring the Buchan railway back?
Could a park and ride option help bring the Buchan railway back?

A new option is to be included in on-going studies looking at the possibility of re-opening the former Buchan rail line from Dyce to at least Ellon.

The suggestion of re-opening the Buchan line as far as a park-and-ride station just north of Ellon was put forward by East Garioch councillor Martin Ford at the North East of Scotland Transport Partnership (Nestrans) meeting on Friday, September 30.

The Dyce to Ellon section of the long-closed Buchan rail route has been regarded as the most likely to meet value-for-money criteria for possible re-opening.

In making the proposal for a short additional length of line at the Nestrans board meeting, Cllr Ford cited the passenger numbers on the re-opened Borders line.

While overall levels of use of the new Borders Railway during its first year have been well above predictions, passenger numbers have been highest and most above forecast at Tweedbank, the park-and-ride station at the end of the line.

“The unforeseen popularity of long-distance park-and-ride on the re-opened Borders Railway is noteworthy,” said Cllr Ford.

“The success of Tweedbank as a park-and-ride station has contributed disproportionately to the overall success of the railway.

“The Borders line experience suggests it is well worth looking at the possibility of replicating the model of re-opening to a terminus that provides a convenient park-and-ride facility for the area beyond.

“For the Buchan line, that could mean continuing the railway to a station just beyond Ellon which is easily accessed from the north by bus and car.”

The A948 north of Ellon passes close to the alignments of both the former Boddam branch and the Formartine and Buchan line to Fraserburgh and Peterhead.

“I believe there is a good case for re-opening at least the southern part of the Buchan railway, but it’s crucial to identify the option with the best benefit:cost ratio to maximise the chances of getting the go-ahead.”

The Nestrans board agreed to continue feasibility studies into future transport options for the Aberdeen/Ellon/Peterhead/Fraserburgh corridor, and to include re-opening the rail line from Dyce to a park-and-ride station just north of Ellon for consideration.

Fellow councillor Paul Johnston added: “Park-and-rail has potential not just for north of Ellon but also for the B999 corridor at Udny and the A947 corridor at Newmachar.”