Welcome to Connect Our Coast, the first phase in our campaign to get the North East back on track. Click below to see how you can spread the word and help along the way.
10 Reasons why the railway has to go all the way to the coast
1. The North East Coast has already lost jobs and businesses to Ellon due to a lack of good transport links.
Two multimillion pound, globally trading companies moved from Fraserburgh to Ellon because they were struggling to attract the skilled staff they required. Powerjacks and Brewdog both originated in and operated in Fraserburgh for many years before making the decision to relocate only 25 miles closer to Aberdeen. If there was a railway connection then the area would not have felt so isolated as it currently does and attracting skilled people from afar to work in the area would have been much easier. Connecting only Ellon to the railway will exacerbate this problem and encourage more employers to shift away from the coast, straining the regeneration of Fraserburgh and Peterhead.
2. Peterhead is the largest settlement in mainland UK the furthest from a railway station. Fraserburgh is second.
Peterhead has a population of 19,270. Fraserburgh has 13,180. Ellon has a population of 10,200.
3. Peterhead is the largest fishing port in Europe.
150,000 Tonnes of fish pass through Peterhead port every year. This freight is all long haul and perfectly suited to rail,. Large, regular shipments travel across the country to London, and across the channel to France.
4. Peterhead Port is the largest offshore support facility in the world.
ASCO, located on the south breakwater in Peterhead handles 910,000 tonnes of freight supporting the Oil industry. Even with the coming decline in the industry as we transition to renewable energy, this site will continue to support the industry through decommissioning, and can transition itself to support the future renewable industry,
5. HMP Grampian in Peterhead is the worst connected prison in Scotland by Public transport.
Regular visits from family and friends have positive benefits for prisoner's quality of life, it has been shown that keeping in touch with the outside world aids in rehabilitation and reduces the rate of reoffending. All prisons in Scotland have nearby railway stations except for HMP Grampian in Peterhead. The bus service to Peterhead is unreliable and has significant time built into the schedule to account for the variability of the traffic on the route to Aberdeen. Linking Peterhead to the railway network will improve access directly by allowing connections from long haul trains, but will also improve the reliability of the bus journeys by reducing traffic on the A90 and surrounding roads.
6. The Boddam Branch line has never been studied, its both free of obstruction for it's length and will be competitive with the car journey time.
The Boddam branch line ran from Ellon to Boddam. The route is now abandoned, but much of the original features are in great condition. embankments, cuttings, retaining walls, and bridges all still stand today. To get to Peterhead from Boddam we propose making use of the former Peterhead Prison Railway, which is in a similar condition. The line follows a relatively straight path from Ellon to Boddam, compared to the previously studied route of the Formartine and Buchan Railway via Maud it is clear how much better this line will compete with car journeys on the A90.
7. The A90 at Ellon is dual carriageway between Ellon and Aberdeen.
Problems of congestion and traffic exist north of Ellon. The A90 and A952 to Peterhead and Fraserburgh are single carriageway roads shared between private cars, buses and many HGVs carrying tonnes of freight to and from Buchan. South of Ellon, the road becomes a dual carriageway all the way to Aberdeen and beyond. This results in a slow and frustration driving experience to Ellon, and then relief from congestion beyond. Coupled with the fact that drivers from Peterhead and Fraserburgh have completed more than half of their journey by the time they have reached Ellon, we expect a Park and Ride in Ellon will underperform compared to one in Peterhead.
8. The Borders Railway was a runaway success, this railway is comparable in length, cost, population and technical feasibility.
The Borders Railway data taught us that settlements closer to the city perform worse than settlements further away, the Buchan line has most of its population towards the far end of the railway, maximising this effect. This fact worked against the case for a line to Ellon at the time of the Ellon Rail Study, but would benefit the case to Peterhead. Both the Borders and Buchan railways are 30 miles long, have similar populations along their length, and we predict a Buchan railway to be slightly cheaper than the Borders Railway was, when adjusted for inflation. Many of the challenges faced during the construction of the Borders Railway do not exist in Buchan. For example, for the line to cross the Edinburgh Bypass a temporary dual carriageway had to be constructed at significant cost so work could be done on the existing road to allow the new railway to pass underneath,. Compare that with the Buchan railway where the AWPR and A947 crossings are already large enough for electrified double track, due in part to lobbying by CNER members. All other bridges on the line are Rail over Road, which are much easier to install than Road over Rail crossings.
9. The Scottish Government have identified Peterhead and Fraserburgh as regeneration priorities.
Peterhead and Fraserburgh are recognised as Regeneration Priority Areas, and the Aberdeen to Peterhead transport corridor is recognised as a Strategic Growth Area. Both towns already lose major employers to Ellon due to the better transport links, in the past multi million pound, globally trading companies such as Brewdog and Powerjacks have moved from the coast to Ellon to be closer to the skilled staff they require. Better transport links will allow employers to remain in these regeneration priority areas, and encourage new employers to establish themselves in Peterhead and Fraserburgh. Terminating the railway at Ellon will exacerbate this problem and see Ellon attract more industry away from Peterhead and Fraserburgh.
10. The Buchan Coast has world class tourist attractions, and potential for much more.
World class attractions such as the Scottish Lighthouse Museum, Peterhead Prison Museum, miles of beaches, Slain's Castle, renowned golf courses and more show the potential for a healthy tourism industry along the Buchan coast. A railway station will allow the region to take advantage of the 'on the map' effect while providing easy, reliable and sustainable travel from across the UK. Our proposed line is scenic in itself and, like the Borders Railway did, will attract people to the region that would not have visited otherwise. 78% of tourists to Aberdeenshire come from the rest of the UK, this is the perfect medium haul journey that we should be transferring to rail.