An iconic Aberdeen building marked its 150th anniversary by giving its name to a high-speed train.
Aberdeen railway station, celebrated the milestone on Saturday with a ceremony in the station, where one of the very first high-speed trains to be built was officially named the “Aberdeen Station 150th Anniversary” train.
Organised by ScotRail Alliance, the event included information on the planned redevelopment of the station, an exhibition on the history of the station produced by the Great North of Scotland Railway Association, as well as details on the ongoing improvement plans for the Aberdeen to Inverness line.
In a speech at the event, managing director of ScotRail Alliance, Alex Hynes, said: “Our Victorian ancestors gave much to the world. They powered the industrial revolution, invented modern communication through the electric telegraph and made the world a smaller place through the massive expansion in global trade.
“For a railway person like me, their biggest and best achievement was the railway. Not only did they build an extraordinary network which is still the backbone of what we use today, they also had the foresight to build huge stations in locations where they were needed the most right in the heart of our towns and cities.”
Plans were also announced to further develop the North-east’s rail links. Mr Hynes said: “In a few short months, we’ll launch a new intercity service with some of the best quality trains in our fleet. This service will start here in Aberdeen meaning that the people in this city can travel to other parts of Scotland in a style and a comfort that they have been denied for too long.
“Our £300 million Aberdeen to Inverness project will increase capacity, it will improve punctuality and deliver new, modern accessible stations like the one I opened in Forres last month. And this station will benefit from further upgrades, transforming the station and the area around it into one of the jewels in our Scottish railway crown.”
Historically, Aberdeen had two railway stations, but following a major campaign, the 1867 railway station was eventually built.
Keith Jones, a rail historian and member of the Great North of Scotland Railway Association, said: “Originally when the railways came to Aberdeen, the city had two separate stations – one in Guild Street and one in Waterloo Quay by the harbour. Eventually the Westminster parliament brokered a deal and money was found to build the station on the current site in 1867. It rapidly outgrew capacity and there were branch lines opened. There was a rapid expansion of traffic and by the 1890s, there were complaints to the Aberdeen Journal for the next 20 years.”
The station which is used today was eventually built in 1915.
Keith, who lives in Aberdeen, added: “From 1912 to 1915, they rebuilt the station and the building we’re in now was opened in 1915. But after the World War 1, there was a lot more motor traffic so the bus services expanded and the rail traffic declined. By the 1960s, most of the rail system in the North-east was closed.
“Then around the 1990s, traffic started increasing again – stations such as Dyce and Portlethen were opened in 1984 and 1985 as commuter traffic started developing.”
In recent years, Aberdeen Railway Station has seen another major transformation with the opening of Union Square in 2009, which is connected to the station.
Keith said: “Without a doubt the biggest change in recent years was when Union Square was built and the station was accommodated into Union Square.
“It’s made a big difference to the accessibility of the station.”