Electric trains for North East?

ScotRail is looking at electrifying the Aberdeen line to the Central Belt by 2030, the North East transport partnership Nestrans heard this afternoon.

Alex Hynes from ScotRail told the meeting this would be part of a target to decarbonise the railway by 2035.

The 2030 date would coincide with the end of life for the current “125” rolling stock which connects the country’s seven main cities. ScotRail has 25 high speed trains which currently have four carriages, and this is expected to increase to five shortly.

He said continuous electrification across Scotland is key to removing diesel power. This would offer other benefits too such as faster services. The Barrhead line is being electrified.

Mr Hynes said that climate change – which is driving this decarbonising – is affecting Scotland more than the three other UK countries.

Other points included:

  • 25% more trains in Scotland compared with when Arbellio, the state-owned Dutch national rail operator, took over ScotRail in 2015.
  • Dedicated cycle carriages are to be trialled on the West Highland line.
  • New timetables will be introduced in May.
  • Passenger numbers are now 60% down on pre-pandemic levels. Physical distancing requirements on trains are one metre spacing plus a face mask.
  • More people were using Portlethen station before the pandemic struck as a result of the introduction of regular Montrose-Aberdeen-Inverurie commuter trains.
  • The training of new train drivers has had to be put on hold during the pandemic as physical distancing is not possible.
  • Rail services are now back to 83% of pre-pandemic services, though in the North East this figure is 86%, and indeed 100% between Aberdeen and Inverness.
  • Kintore Station had opened since Mr Hynes last met the Nestrans board, providing a 19 minutes service to Aberdeen, compared with one hour on a bus.
  • Mr Hynes also paid tribute to the victims of the Carmont accident last August. This has changed the way the railway operates.
  • A Scottish Government owned “Operator of Last Resort” (OLR) will take over the ScotRail franchise on 1 April. The OLR will be wholly owned by Transport Scotland and will continue to use ScotRail and Scotland’s Railway branding.

The Nestrans board also agreed to establish a new grant scheme aimed at encouraging communities to bring forward sustainable travel initiatives. Grants would be up to £10,000 and groups will be expected to demonstrate commitment by a contribution (including contributions in kind) to the project.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss an application, contact Nestrans by emailing nestransinfo@nestrans.org.uk

All the reports before the board can be found here: https://www.nestrans.org.uk/about-nestrans/board-meetings/2021-board-meetings/board-papers-09-06-2021/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *