Aberdeen to Inverness rail improvements

The Aberdeen to Inverness line is approximately 108 miles long and is primarily single track with some passing loops. 

The current passenger journey times (typically around 2 hours, 25 minutes) and irregular through service (approximately every 2 hours) between Aberdeen and Inverness means that it does not offer an attractive alternative to road travel.

The rail improvements project is being delivered in phases and aims to provide incremental benefits throughout the life of the scheme, with the whole project being delivered by 2030.

Project aspirations

The long-term aspirations of the project aim to deliver:

  • a 2 hour journey time (end to end)
  • an hourly service
  • enhanced commuter services into each city
  • the infrastructure to support new stations at Kintore in Aberdeenshire and Dalcross, next to  Inverness airport
  • increased opportunities for freight

Phase one

Phase 1 of the programme was completed in December 2019.  Improvements delivered as part of this phase include:

  • re-doubling of the track between Aberdeen and Inverurie
  • signalling enhancements between Nairn and Inverurie
  • platform extensions at Insch and Elgin
  • the relocation of Forres Station
  • the extension of the passing loop at Forres

This phase also provided the infrastructure to support new stations at Kintore in Aberdeenshire and Dalcross, next to Inverness Airport.

The new station at Kintore opened in October 2020, once again providing Kintore with access to the rail network after a gap of 56 years. The new, two-platform station features an accessible footbridge with lifts and a 168-space car park. 24 of the spaces have charging facilities for electric vehicles – the largest such facility in north-east Scotland.

The new station at Dalcross is expected to open in December 2022. It will be a two-platform station with an accessible footbridge with lifts and a 64-space car park.

Completion of Phase 1 enabled additional services to run between Elgin and Inverness, with roughly an hourly service now running between these two cities. It also enabled a half-hourly service between Inverurie and Aberdeen, with one service each hour continuing south to Montrose, providing a “Crossrail” service through Aberdeen.

Future Phases

Future phases of the project will help support an hourly service between Aberdeen and Inverness, with an average journey time of around 2 hours. The exact scope and timing of works to achieve this is still to be determined and will be dependent on sufficient resources being available to support their delivery.

More information on the project