A project to improve the railway line between Aberdeen and Inverness, was approved by Transport Scotland, the national transport agency of Scotland, in March 2014. It is owned by Network Rail and operated by ScotRail, an alliance between Scotland’s state-owned company Abellio ScotRail and Network Rail.
Approximately 173km (108m) in length, the line broadly follows the corridor of the A96 trunk road, and operates both passenger and freight services.
MetroWest is a proposed rail project to improve rail transport services in Bristol and its surrounding areas.
The project will increase services, reduce journey times, support jobs and growth, and provide economic boost to cities and communities along the route.
It will be delivered in phases and is scheduled for completion by 2030. Phase 1 of the project is scheduled for completion by 2019.
Aberdeen to Inverness line upgrade project details
Phase 1 of the project is aimed at delivering more commuter services to each city, and constructing two new stations.
Phase objectives include redoubling the 16m (25.7km) track between Aberdeen and Inverurie, upgrading signalling systems between Nairn and Elgin, platform extensions at Insch and Elgin, relocation of Forres station, track loop extension at Forres, and facilitating infrastructure for the construction of two new stations at Dalcross and Kintore.
The project will affect six level crossings between Aberdeen and Inverurie, as well as 30 crossings between Inverness and Elgin.
New station details
A 2006 study examined options for a new station at Dalcross, west of the bridge across the Aberdeen / Inverness line. It concluded that the preferred option would be a new two-platform station.
Another study, conducted for Kintore station, came up with two options for the station location: a single platform to the north-west of Kintore, or a double platform at the same location with access to the second platform to the north of the railway. One of the two options will be finalised.
Objectives of the rail improvement project
The Scottish Government’s Strategic Project Review (STPR) identified three priority rail projects in 2008, including the Aberdeen to Inverness rail improvement project.
The project has three goals, the first of which is to improve commuter services between Inverurie and Aberdeen, and between Elgin and Inverness, by providing half-hourly services and new stations.
The other goals are to achieve an hourly service pattern between Aberdeen and Inverness, and reduce the overall journey times to two hours.
The principal contract for Phase 1 was awarded to BAM in October 2015. BAM will work in partnership with Aecom, CH2M, Stobart Rail and Siemens to deliver the project.
Development plans for the new stations are being prepared by The Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership (HITRANS) and North East of Scotland Transport Partnership (NESTRANS), the two regional transport partnerships in Scotland.
The estimated investment for Phase 1 is £240m ($369m), £170m ($261m) of which will be invested over five years by the Scottish Government.
The investment is part of the government’s £5bn programme to ensure better rail infrastructure and services throughout Scotland.