Inverness - Aberdeen Line Progress
The plans for the start of the major upgrade to the Inverness-Aberdeen line were recently published in summary form on the Transport Scotland website under the title Aberdeen to Inverness rail improvements project GRIP 3 - phase 1 enhancements. Summary. August 2014.
Readers will note that the whole scheme, which was hoped to have been delivered in full by 2016, has now been divided into more than one phase. "The scope of the first phase to be taken forward by 2015 for completion by (the end of financial Control Period 5 in) March 2019 includes:
- Aberdeen to Inverurie redoubling (subject to a caveat regarding the tunnels)
- Insch and Elgin platform extensions
- Elgin signalling enhancements
- Forres station relocation, loop extension and token exchange removal."
This is estimated to cost £170m and the additional costs of constructing Dalcross and Kintore stations have to be found by Hitrans and Nestrans.
"Further development work will take place on the optimisation of the loop/double track strategy at Nairn/Dalcross; line speed improvements; and level crossing closures during CP5."
"Further timetable development work began in February 2014 to establish the optimum timetable between Aberdeen and Inverurie and to develop a timetable and to finalise the infrastructure scope between Inverness and Elgin. It will include work to evaluate the benefits of extending the double track from Dalcross to Nairn as has recently been proposed by Transport Scotland. The work carried out to date has identified paths for additional train services from Inverness and Elgin."
I hope that the benefit of installing/reinstalling double track for most of the way between Inverness and Nairn to ensure timetable robustness will be recognised. We do not, as yet, have any indication that there will eventually be a loop to split the longest single line section which is the 18 miles from Elgin to Keith. Meanwhile, the public are already being consulted on the details of dualling the A96 all the way from Inverness to Nairn and Auldearn.