More using local stations

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More people are using Stonehaven, Portlethen and Laurencekirk railway stations, according to figures from the North East transport partnership Nestrans.

Wednesday’s board meeting was told that rail patronage in the North East has again shown a significant increase. Between 2009/10 and 2010/11 Stonehaven was used by 9% more people, Portlethen by 21% more and Laurencekirk by 15% more.

In comparison the increase in rail patronage across Scotland over that period was just 4%.

North Kincardine councillor Ian Mollison – who is a substitute member of the Nestrans board – said: “This is encouraging news and surely strengthens the case for further investment in North East railway services with new stations at Newtonhill and Kintore.

“I have contacted Nestrans director Derick Murray about the recent government announcement on funding more stations across the country. The director confirmed that he has been in touch with Transport Scotland.

“Mr Murray told me that ‘the recent success of the Laurencekirk re-opening and the additional trains through to Inverurie do provide compelling evidence that there is a very strong demand for services if we can provide them.’

“He added me that Nestrans will be making this case ‘in the strongest possible terms’ to Transport Scotland.

“On a positive note, he also said Nestrans has been discussing with Transport Scotland and ScotRail the possibility of extending the Inverness to Aberdeen train through to Montrose to create a local service permitting additional stops without affecting the national train system.

“A study will be required first. Mr Murray assured me it would take into account planned development to the west of Newtonhill, at Chapelton of Elsick.”

In the meantime, Nestrans has been discussing with ScotRail the possibility additional stops at Portlethen which, with adjustments to the timetable further south, would have little impact on journey times between Aberdeen and Edinburgh/Glasgow. Mr Murray is hopeful that some progress may be made on this by the December 2012 timetable change.