Upgrading rail lines could get passengers from Aberdeen to London an hour quicker than now, an MSP has said.
It currently takes around seven hours and 20 minutes to travel from Aberdeen to the capital by train and North-east Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald has argued spending cash on improvements could reduce the journey by an hour.
He has challenged the Scottish Government to do the work – or spend the £200 million it has previously pledged to spend on rail infrastructure improvements benefitting the north-east on other things that will speed up journeys.
Mr Macdonald told the Evening Express: “The Scottish Government said in 2016 it would do work to improve journey times and now says it won’t do it. The only thing it has done in that time is abandon its own project.”
He was referring to an idea put forward to upgrade “pinch points” – track sections that cause delays as only one train can pass at a time.
Transport Secretary Michael Matheson now says installing double tracks at the pinch points “may not represent value for money”.
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Mr Macdonald added: “If they don’t progress with that work, the money should be spent on other projects, such as improving the Victorian signalling system we have in some parts of the north-east.
“Routes between Aberdeen, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Newcastle and London are extremely important and you notice trains speed up significantly once they clear Edinburgh.
“Upgrades could shave an hour off the journey and make it even more attractive to passengers.”
Mr Matheson said: “I recognise the value of ensuring we make the right investments in the transport infrastructure in the north-east, particularly in rail infrastructure.
“The £200m investment we intend to make on that line remains in place.
“It is critical we ensure the investment maximises the improvements we seek to achieve on that line, particularly in relation to speeding up journey times.”
He added a group set up in 2016 to look at the issue would carry out further work to identify the maximum possible benefits achievable for the £200m.