£254 million deal agreed to boost Aberdeen

A funding agreement between Aberdeen City Council and the Scottish Government, worth more than a quarter of a billion pounds, has been agreed.

A row broke out earlier this month after the Labour-led administration called to delay signing the Scottish Government agreement until further clarity was provided over the proposals.

But councillors unanimously agreed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) covering the additional funds at a meeting of all members yesterday.

The investment includes an initial £200 million to help improve journey times and increase capacity on key rail links between Aberdeen and the Central Belt.

Councillors also agreed to instruct the chief executive to write to the First Minister to clarify whether a £160m overspend in relation to the rail line improvements would have any impact on the committed £200m to improve journey times.

Speaking after the meeting, finance convener Councillor Willie Young welcomed the signing of the agreement.

But added: “The fact is that the Scottish Government is running huge overspends and we can see that as they go forward with rail.

“So what we are asking is that our £200m is not going to be lost in overspend that they have got on the Aberdeen to Inverness rail line.”

As reported in the Evening Express, the railway link upgrade between Aberdeen and Inverness has been delayed – and almost doubled in cost.

The infrastructure project was due to be completed by March 2019, with a price tag of £170m.

But a report by Transport Scotland revealed the bill is now set at £330m, with delays caused by the rise in cost setting a new finish date of September that year.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman previously said the increased costs set out by contractors BAM Nuttall would be challenged and they called on the UK Government to devolve more network management powers.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We are very pleased that Aberdeen City Council has agreed the MOU on how we will keep the city partners updated on the progress of our £254m investment into transport, housing and digital in the North-east.

“Aberdeen and the North-east remain central to driving future growth and prosperity in Scotland with the £254m in addition to a £125m commitment to the Aberdeen City Region Deal over the next 10 years – a commitment that was signed just last month.

“The £200m rail investment commitment will look at all options to improve capacity, journey times and performance on services to and from Aberdeen, including those linked to the current single track section between Montrose and Usan.”