The next stage of plans to improve journey times between Aberdeen and the Central Belt could be accelerated – a new report has said.
The Aberdeen City Region Deal Committee will meet on Friday to discuss updates on a number of projects being carried out across the region.
One of these includes making improvements to journey times between Aberdeen and the Central Belt.
A report, which will be put before councillors this week, states that a meeting of the Aberdeen to Central Belt Key Stakeholders Group which was held at the end of October, saw Network Rail set out its approach to taking the project through to its next stage, called ‘GRIP 3’, where options will be selected.
The previous stage, looking at feasibility of the project was fast tracked, which may also happen with the forthcoming phase.
The report states: “The previous “GRIP 2” or feasibility stage of the project, which typically takes up to two years, was undertaken within a few months and we are looking to take the project through its remaining stages within a similarly accelerated timescale.
“During GRIP 3, estimated costs and a draft programme will be developed for the single option selected for progression. The GRIP 3 process will identify specific measures and their contribution to the service frequencies and journey times.
“Work is also on-going to prepare a business case that will be subject to Transport Scotland Governance procedures, which require it to demonstrate value for money and to fulfil the requirements of the Rail Enhancement Capital Investment Strategy (RECIS).
“The Aberdeen to Central Belt Project will be a key enabler to our ambitious decarbonisation strategy for routes to Aberdeen and beyond. Gauging and route clearance on the route, in preparation for electrification, will be undertaken by summer 2021.”
The project would see journeys between Aberdeen and Glasgow taking two hours and 30 minutes, two hours and 10 minutes for Aberdeen to Edinburgh and one hour 10 minutes from Aberdeen to Dundee with a half-hour frequency at peak times for local services into Aberdeen and Dundee.
Meanwhile, the report also outlines the progress made in delivering affordable housing across the north-east.
A total of £158.257m has been spent since 2016/17 in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, with 2,044 affordable homes having been delivered so far.
This year, this includes projected figures of 490 for Aberdeen, and 147 for Aberdeenshire.
Due to the impact of Covid-19 on the construction industry, it means that 490 out of the 907 planned units in Aberdeen are expected to be completed by March, and 147 out of 159 in Aberdeenshire.
In addition to this, both local authorities have had discussions with the Scottish Government on how to use the £20m Housing Infrastructure fund available, which is used to offer affordable housing.
A list of sites have been identified as places that could potentially utilise the funding, including Balmedie, Blackdog, Ellon, Fraserburgh, Mintlaw and Peterhead in Aberdeenshire and Craighall, Greenferns, Kaimhill, Kincorth and Summerhill in Aberdeen.