Aberdeenshire councillors are voicing their support for reinstating the railway to Ellon as part of the proposed Aberdeen City Region Deal.
The suggestion of including re-opening the rail line to Ellon in any Aberdeen City Region Deal was made by Green councillor Martin Ford and Democratic Independent councillor Paul Johnston. The two councillors unveiled their idea when Aberdeenshire Council considered the City Region Deal at its meeting on 12 March.
“We believe the City Region Deal offers the best prospect for taking rail re-opening to Ellon onwards from being an aspiration to making it a reality,” said Cllr Ford.
Following the 12 March full council meeting, Cllr Ford and Cllr Johnston wrote to the leaders of Aberdeenshire’s coalition administration and SNP councillors seeking cross-party backing for their rail re-opening proposal. (See letter attached)
It is now clear there will be support from the Aberdeenshire SNP councillor group.
“The time has come for moving forward on re-opening the line to Ellon,” said Cllr Paul Johnston. “Better public transport is essential to cut road congestion and reduce carbon emissions, in line with commitments to tackle climate change. Reinstating the railway would also offer significant economic development opportunities. It is a good fit with the aims of the Energetica development corridor.”
Said Cllr Ford: “The former railway from Dyce to Ellon is about 14 miles long and, apart from one very small section, the whole of the track-bed is owned by Aberdeen City Council or Aberdeenshire Council. If the railway was to re-open, the current Formatine & Buchan walk/cycle way would have to be relocated to an adjacent position.
“A station at Ellon would not just serve the town, but act as a park and ride station for Fraserburgh, Peterhead and central Buchan. Newmachar is the largest settlement along the route, but the number of intermediate stations is one of many things that would need to be considered through a cost/benefit analysis to arrive at a detailed scheme for re-opening.
“Although there is a desire to re-open the line further than Ellon, we are proposing just the Dyce to Ellon section, at least for the time being. We believe this section of route offers the best chance for a successful new railway and is the most practical option.
“Of course, a great deal of technical work will be required for a transport project on this scale. The planning process too will take time. Aberdeenshire Council, though, has already expressed its support in principle for exploring re-opening. The City Region Deal offers a great opportunity to bring that hope to fruition.”