The Aberdeen to Inverness transport corridor is of national strategic importance and links the major city of Aberdeen to the strategically significant transport node at the city of Inverness. This corridor is vital in supporting the future growth of the two cities and the various communities within and connected to the transport corridor.
The corridor comprises the A96 trunk road and the Aberdeen to Inverness railway line.
The purpose of this study is to undertake a Pre-Appraisal in accordance with the Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance (STAG) to identify the problems and opportunities along the corridor, to establish local transport planning objectives that address these problems, and to generate and sift a range of transport improvement options that meet the established transport planning objectives. These options will be considered subsequently as part of the Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR).
The Scottish Executive, Transport Scotland, Hitrans and Nestrans have established a working group for the study. In May 2006, Scott Wilson was appointed to carry out the study, which is being undertaken under the direction of a Steering Group and in close consultation with key stakeholders.
The general location of the Aberdeen to Inverness transport corridor is shown in Figure 1.1.1.
1.2 Study Limits
The limits of the study are generally from the A90/A96 Haudagain Roundabout in Aberdeen to the A9/A96 Raigmore Interchange in Inverness for the trunk road, and between Aberdeen and Inverness railway stations.
The transport corridor passes through four council areas, namely Highland Council, Moray Council, Aberdeenshire Council and Aberdeen City Council. The boundaries of the four councils are shown in Figure 1.2.1.
The limits of the study area and the routes of the A96 trunk road and the Aberdeen to Inverness railway are shown in Figure 1.2.2. The main built-up areas along the corridor and the populations based on the 2001 census data are shown in Figure 1.2.3.
1.3 Project Aims and Requirements
The specific aims of the project are as follows:
- to ensure that all information gathered is both relevant and proportional to providing sufficient and reliable data for use in establishing an adequate understanding of existing transport conditions on all modes using the corridor as a whole or sections thereof;
- that recommendations on taking forward transport proposals shall meet the transport planning objectives established as part of the study and shall be realistically implementable and shall provide value for money;
- as an outcome of option development and consultations, ensure that all aspects of any recommended options are capable of being developed to meet statutory requirements; and
- throughout the duration of the study, achieve successful completion of the various work packages and deliverables identified within this brief within agreed timescales and within agreed budgets.
Although a specific aim of the project is that recommendations for taking forward transport proposals shall provide value for money and that all aspects of recommended options can satisfy statutory requirements, as the work is limited to the STAG pre-appraisal stage, an economic assessment of the options will not be undertaken and it is unlikely that the improvement options will be developed in sufficient detail to confirm that all aspects satisfy statutory requirements at this stage.
The project brief specifies that the study is to be undertaken in accordance with the STAG pre-appraisal methodology and the following general requirements of:
- analysing the existing transport conditions and needs of the corridor as a whole by bringing together the disparate work which has been undertaken so far on specific modes and discrete locations;
- assessing and identifying current and future transport problems and opportunities;
- establishing a set of transport planning objectives clearly linked to the identified transport problems and transport policies for this corridor; and
- generating and sifting from a wide range of options across all transport modes that have the propensity to deliver some or all of the transport planning objectives and complement the Scottish Executiveâ€™s core objectives of the environment, safety, economy, integration, and accessibility and social inclusion.
1.4 Structure of the Report
This report has been prepared in accordance with the requirements of STAG, the study brief and our understanding of conditions within the Aberdeen to Inverness transport corridor.
The report is structured to cover the main elements of the STAG pre-appraisal process including details of the continuous consultation with key stakeholders, identifying problems and opportunities, developing SMART transport planning objectives and the development of transport improvement options that address the established transport planning objectives.
Section 2 describes the details of the consultation process and the associated workshops. Section 3 describes the analysis of the existing and future conditions within the transport corridor, and Section 4 identifies the problems and opportunities within the corridor.
Section 5 outlines the process of defining study specific transport planning objectives and Section 6 describes the option generation, sifting and development. Section 7 outlines the conclusions and recommendations for those options that should be taken forward for further consideration as part of the Strategic Transport Projects Review.
Figure 1.1.1 General Location Plan
Figure 1.2.1 Council Boundaries
Figure 1.2.2 A96 Trunk Road and Aberdeen to Inverness Railway
Figure 1.2.3 Location of Built-up Areas and Populations (2001)