Bid to create cross-city rail network for Aberdeen

A new cross-city rail and road network has been proposed for Aberdeen under plans for a second £250 million City Region Deal, the Evening Express can reveal today.

Labour councillors have said delivering a second City Region Deal is a central election manifesto commitment.

The group has said the proposed £250m deal would focus on establishing new cross-city connections across Aberdeen, with council bosses taking inspiration from the Berlin Stadtbahn – the city railway in the German capital.

But SNP group leader Stephen Flynn branded the proposals “pie in the sky plans” and said residents need a council that can deliver “realistic projects and services”.

As revealed last month, Aberdeen City Council leader Jenny Laing said she intends to pursue a second City Region Deal.

Under the Labour-led budget which was passed in February, chief executive Angela Scott has been instructed to begin talks to develop transport proposals under the second City Deal.

Proposals that have been put forward include opening up former stations at places including Cove, which closed in 1956, and Kittybrewster, which closed in 1968.

There are also ambitions to use potential City Deal cash to fund a multi-million pound rail link between the city, the new AECC and the airport.

work:  Cllr Neil Cooney, inset left, made the claims, but Cllr Jackie Dunbar, inset right, was critical of the report that highlighted the committee’s achievements, including the AECC.

Finance convener Willie Young said improving cross-city connections is “pivotal” to the future success of the city.

He added the City Region Deal was always going to be “step one” of a longer process.

He added: “If we secure £250m that will be spent on new cross-city connections for Aberdeen.

“This is something which Aberdeen needs strategically.

“We’re looking at the new AECC, the harbour extension, the diversification of industries and the amount of new start-ups in Aberdeen.

“It means opening up railway stations like Cove and Kittybrewster but also opening up the routes to the new exhibition centre and to Dyce and the airport.

“It’s pivotal to the future success of the city and the economy that we have a transport system that allows us to compete with the best cities in the world.

The train system in Aberdeen could be similar to the one in Berlin, Germany.
The train system in Aberdeen could be similar to the one in Berlin, Germany.

“We need to be that ambitious where we are looking at Berlin, Oslo and other big economic capitals.

“It is so important we try our hardest to move this forward.

“Other cities are miles ahead of us.”

Cllr Young said he sees a second City Region Deal as an extension of big infrastructure projects already under way throughout the city.

Referring to an SNP manifesto pledge to build a new bridge across the River Dee, Mr Young said: “There’s no joined up thinking there.

“We have to think bigger and think strategically.

“Coming up with a bridge over the Dee doesn’t quite cut it.”

MIND THE GAP: An artist’s impression of how Concept 7 at Bridge of Dee would look.

SNP councillors in the city have pledged to spend tens of millions of pounds on a new bridge across the River Dee if they seize control at the May elections.

They say a new crossing would transform the entrance to the city from the south and get rid of the notorious bottleneck which causes huge hold-ups on the A90.

Cllr Flynn said: “A City Deal 2 is a grand idea in theory but any practical delivery is entirely reliant on funding from others – in particular a UK Government who are seeking to cut public spending. To therefore have a manifesto commitment to achieve something which is entirely outwith our control is fairly bizarre and shows that Labour are rapidly running out of ideas.

“A new bridge over the Dee is a no-brainer – should have been delivered decades ago and is backed by both residents and businesses in Aberdeen.

“Rather than pie in the sky plans, we need a council that can actually deliver realistic projects and services.”

The council is already working with Nestrans and Aberdeenshire Council to look at how best to “lock in” the benefits of the new AWPR, including opportunities for improving internal connectivity once the road is open.

The historic £250m Aberdeen City Region Deal was signed off by ministers from the UK and Scottish governments in the North-east last January.

City Deal money will be used for a number of projects including the expansion of Aberdeen harbour, improvements in digital connectivity and the creation of the Oil and Gas Technology Centre which opened last month.