So Far. To Come.
May '21 Election and Meeting MSPs
During May's election CNER secured commitments from candidates across the political spectrum. Since then, we have been busy meeting with those who were elected to make our case and plan a strategy forward. CNER are happy to report that all MSPs we met agree that rail provision in the North East is not fit for purpose, and that expansion is necessary. Even MSPs who didn't get around to endorsing our campaign during the election have been amenable and enthusiastic in our meetings. CNER is firmly on the agenda of all of our North East representatives, and regular cross-party meetings including SNP, Conservative, Green and Labour MSPs are now being hosted to discuss strategy and progress towards our new railway.
Sep '21 Scottish Government Cooperation Agreement
The results in May produced a parliament where no single party held a majority. As a result talks began between the SNP and the Scottish Green Party in hopes of reaching a power sharing agreement. Last month this agreement was ratified, and the Greens entered the Scottish Government alongside the SNP. This agreement is relevant for our efforts here at CNER. Not only does it commit the Scottish Government to dedicating £5bn over this term of parliament to our railways, but the North East is the only rail project that gets a specific mention in the deal text. It says; "Working with Nestrans, Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Councils on the feasibility of a mass rapid transit system for the region, and also a rail link between Dyce and Ellon and further north to Peterhead and Fraserburgh." This is great news for CNER, and shows that our message is cutting through, we have been told that this wording would not be in there had it not been for our campaign. A feasibility study is coming for Buchan railways!
Sep '21 #ConnectOurCoast
Now that progress is being made on the Buchan Corridor, we have launched a new sub-campaign to focus on this region for now. CNER are still committed to seeing Banchory and Deeside connected, #ConnectOurCoast aims to sharpen our message in Buchan while the promised work on a feasibility study progresses. We published a Business and Environmental Case focussed on Buchan, and will be continuing work in the north east of the North East to ensure the coming study has the greatest chance of success. Read more about our sub-campaign in the Buchannie here
Over 500 people responded to our #ConnectOurcoast survey. Some folk expressed concern that we had forgotten about Fraserburgh and Banchory. Don't worry, we haven't. This survey was examining the Boddam Branch line, the only section of former railway in Buchan that has not been studied in previous years. The results clearly show that terminating the railway at Ellon isn't nearly enough. Data from the Borders Railway shows that stations further from cities perform better than stations closer to cities, and here we have evidence that this effect will be replicated in the North East. CNER want to see Fraserburgh, Peterhead, Ellon and Banchory reconnected to the rail network, an Ellon Park & Ride terminus was studied in 2016, and was shown not to be enough. Text responses provided some great insights into the thoughts of the community, and we will be releasing some further info from the survey in time, as well as using the findings behind the scenes in our meetings to come.
Sep '21 Meeting with NESTRANS
The Scottish Government Cooperation Agreement promises to work with Nestrans and both North East councils to bring forward a new feasibility study. CNER met with Nestrans Director Rab Dickson, and Transport Executive Kelly Wiltshire to discuss the aims and strategy of our campaign going forward. This meeting was constructive and valuable, CNER and Nestrans both hope to maintain an open and friendly dialogue as things develop. CNER encouraged Nestrans to amend their recommendations of studying a railway between 'Dyce and Ellon' to better reflect what is stated in the Cooperation Agreement, and this was raised and accepted at Nestrans next meeting on Wedsnesday. Listen to this meeting by clicking the button below, discussion of the Scottish Government Cooperation Deal and CNER begins at 29:19.
Oct '21 Aberdeen to Laurencekirk Multi Modal Study
NESTRANS commissioned a study to investigate options for improving transport links between Aberdeen and Laurencekirk. Included in the options were new stations for Altens, Cove Bay and Newtonhill. CNER supports all three of these station options. Thank you to everyone who took the time to fill out the public consultation. Fingers crossed it will make all the difference, we'll keep you posted with updates from NESTRANS.
Jan '21 STPR2 Published
STPR2 published in January and unfortunately, recommendation NE-23, which provided new rail connections in the North East was not advanced. CNER have responded to the public consultation (now closed), and we'll be waiting to see the final draft towards the end of the year. If you'd like to read our response, find it here.
May - Local Council Elections
This May we will be going to the polls again to elect our local councillors. CNER will be be seeking commitments from candidates to support our campaign throughout their tenure if elected. These elections may be more important than the Holyrood elections as they will change the makeup of Nestrans. Reach out to your local candidates and ask them to back us!
April '21 Meeting with Richard Lochlead MSP and AGCC
We were invited to pitch our ideas to the Aberdeen Grampian Chamber of Commerce on how we believe the £500m Just Transition fund should be spent in the North East. Cabinet Minister Richard Lochlead MSP was in attendance as well as delegates from across North East Industries. Towards the end of the session delegates were asked to rank the pitches given and decide they believe how this money should be allocated. Thanks to the stellar pitch by our very own Wyndham Williams, CNER came top of the leaderboard, with delegates voting that they would like to see rail connections to Fraserburgh, Peterhead and St Fergus gas terminal ahead of all other options. To make this result even better, the vote was proportional, delegates had multiple points to allocate to pitches, that 16% is stronger than it seems! Next week make sure you pick up a copy of the AGCC bulletin mag to see their report on the event and CNER. We are in the process of arranging a meeting with AGCC to discuss our plans and see how we can work together to see the North East reconnected.
June - Meeting the Transport Minister
CNER have secured a face to face meeting with Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth MSP in Dyce, also to be attended by local MSPs Liam Kerr MSP, Gillian Martin MSP and Karen Adam MSP. We are working with all of our local politicians to progress for our campaign's goals, across all parties, and all of our MSPs have been responsive and enthusiastic when engaging with us. We've appreciated the frequency in which North East rail is promoted in the media and parliament, particularly by Gillian Martin MSP, Maggie Chapman MSP and Mercedes Villalba MSP, however, special thanks must go to Liam Kerr MSP, who was instrumental in securing this meeting. CNER will be asking the Transport Minister how the commitment made in the cooperation agreement, that promised a new study examining reconnecting Ellon, Peterhead and Fraserburgh to the rail network, will be fulfilled. We'll be taking the Minister on a brief tour of our proposals and the soon-to-be Dyce Junction, and discussing the potential waiting to be tapped by reconnecting Buchan and upgrading Aberdeen's tunnels. We are looking forward to a positive and constructive meeting with the Minister and her team, and MSPs attending, to put forward the best case for NE rail we can. Look out for an update in June after we meet! Article link:
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