New Forfar line through Strathmore: would it work?

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backontrack

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There used to be a rail line from Perth to Kinnaber Junction - north of Montrose - but it closed in 1967 (with goods services continuing until 1981). The line ran from Perth on the HML to Stanley Junction, where it diverged. It headed east through Coupar Angus, Meigle and Glamis to Forfar, then to Bridge of Dun and finally Kinnaber Junction.

Nowadays, there's a sizeable population in Strathmore - with places such as Scone, Coupar Angus, Blairgowrie and Rattray, Alyth, Kirriemuir, Forfar and Brechin lying between Perth and Laurencekirk. Would a new line - shortening the time taken to travel from Glasgow to Aberdeen - be viable today?
 
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backontrack

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Black = existing lines
Red = old lines
Green = new line
Blue = other possible new lines

My guess is that this is the possible route (if there's not too much in the way):
Screen Shot 2016-05-15 at 20.38.08.png

With stations at Blairgowrie, Alyth, Kirriemuir, Forfar, Brechin and Stracathro.
 
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clc

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Glasgow to Aberdeen trains bypassing Dundee isn't ideal. Might be better to spend the money on upgrades between Perth-Dundee and Dundee-Aberdeen, speeding up Dundee journeys as well as Glasgow-Aberdeen.
 

PHILIPE

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Glasgow to Aberdeen trains bypassing Dundee isn't ideal. Might be better to spend the money on upgrades between Perth-Dundee and Dundee-Aberdeen, speeding up Dundee journeys as well as Glasgow-Aberdeen.

That's the route via Forfar they used to take.
 

JohnR

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I think the problem with your proposed new route - and the reason why the main line originally chose a different one, is that most of those settlements are effectively in a valley out of the Cairngorms. So your line would need massive engineering works, tunnels and viaducts etc. Hence why they were served by branch lines.

So something approaching the original alignment is probably best, and Coupar Angus is served (which it isnt in your route). A bus link into the station from Blairgowrie would be more appropriate - likewise with Kirrie into Forfar.
 

clc

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That's the route via Forfar they used to take.

The strategic focus for the Scottish Govt is on improving intercity journey times. A logical sequence of improvements to the intercity routes in Scotland might be along these lines:-

Phase 1 - Glasgow to Edinburgh HSR.

Phase 2 - New line from Inverkeithing to Perth with a spur across the Tay Estuary - speeds up Edinburgh to Perth/Dundee/Aberdeen/Inverness journeys.

Phase 3 - Link the G2E HSR line to the Fife Line - speeds up Glasgow to Dundee/Aberdeen journeys.

Phase 4 - Improvements north of Dundee to speed up Glasgow/Edinburgh/Perth/Dundee to Aberdeen journeys.

If you're going to spend £500m plus on a scheme it should be designed to benefit as many cities as possible, which the line via Forfar wouldn't do.
 

Philip Phlopp

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How would an Aberdeen and/or Dundee to Brechin service work, with Bridge of Dun to just outside Montrose reinstated ?
 

PHILIPE

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In the old days, the story goes that the North British and the Caledonian (Caley) used to race each other to Aberdeen and try beat each other to Kinnaber Jn.
 

47271

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I like the creative thinking, but it looks most unlikely to me.

Populations:
Blairgowrie - 8k
Alyth - 3k
Kirriemuir - 6k
Forfar - 14k
Brechin - 7k
Total - 38k

Not an awful lot of people to justify 50 odd miles of completely new route through, as pointed out above, quite challenging terrain. There may be regeneration arguments - the area has its economic challenges but is agricultural not post industrial - but where would users commute to? With the exception of Perth, all significant centres are a fair way off.

Restoration of the previous Stanley-Kinnaber route comes up on here from time to time. This seems marginally more possible given that the trackbed is still there and it was a good, fast route. But, as others have said, either idea takes Dundee out of the picture and would do little to get us from Edinburgh or Glasgow to Aberdeen any quicker.
 

Hackneyite

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About 4 years ago NR estimated the reinstatement of Stanley Jct -,Kinnaber route at £750 million!!!
 

JohnR

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About 4 years ago NR estimated the reinstatement of Stanley Jct -,Kinnaber route at £750 million!!!

I think it depends on what you build. Kinnaber - Stanley is a fraction under 46 miles. We know that the Borders Railway delivered a line capable (just!) of a 30 minute interval timetable for just under £10m a mile - and that included new road bridge, compulsory purchase of property etc.

So a reasonable estimate might be £460m.

One place where I wouldn't follow the trackbed is into Forfar itself. The original line did this to meet the original station and line of the Arbroath and Forfar. I'd have a new Forfar station near the A90/A926 junction with a sweeping curve around the north of the town to pick up the old trackbed at Lunanhead.

There would need to be a bit of house demolition in Montrose, and the distance saved would be less than a mile, compared to Perth->Dundee->Montrose-> although there might be scope for higher line speeds, as the line was famed for its racetrack qualities in steam days.

Ultimately, its not going to save much time on Aberdeen-Perth->Glasgow journeys (I'd say 10 minutes max), so if it was going to be rebuilt it would either be for capacity reasons or local need. Capacity is likely to be resolved by the doubling of the single track at Usan recently announced, and local need is slim, to say the least.
 

route:oxford

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There would need to be a bit of house demolition in Montrose, and the distance saved would be less than a mile, compared to Perth->Dundee->Montrose-> although there might be scope for higher line speeds, as the line was famed for its racetrack qualities in steam days.

Aren't there plans to replace or improve the Montrose basin railway bridge?

If so, it would be more appropriate to bring the new-old route in South of Montrose - thus allowing an interchange option there.

So Hourly "fasts" from Glasgow to Aberdeen via new route, on the half hour semi-fasts from Glasgow to Montrose via the heritage route.
 

najaB

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This was investigated as one of the options to remove the Usan-Montrose bottleneck. However it was discounted early in the process as it removed more journey options than it provided and has a very low BCR.

Like many other cases, were the line still open there might be a case to upgrade it, but it's just not viable as new build.
 

JohnR

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Yes, as I mentioned at the end, the doubling of the single track over the basin will relieve capacity problems.

The simplest solution would be to re-open Hillside station, and make it a cross platform interchange, as bringing the Strathmore route around the south of the Basin would involve some tunnelling, or a diversion from Friockheim to Inverkeilor.
 

deltic08

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Glasgow to Aberdeen trains bypassing Dundee isn't ideal. Might be better to spend the money on upgrades between Perth-Dundee and Dundee-Aberdeen, speeding up Dundee journeys as well as Glasgow-Aberdeen.

Never possible to achieve one hour journey time from Perth to Aberdeen via Dundee and Montrose even non stop due to tortuous coastal route. Perth-Forfar via former route then new build Forfar-Brechin-Laurencekirk in the same corridor as the A90 would create 125mph route and allow sub one hour journey time. Get on with it asap.
 

Difflam

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I thought there is an old steam train that runs on this route from Brechin to Montrose?
 

JohnR

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I thought there is an old steam train that runs on this route from Brechin to Montrose?

The Caledonain Railway (Brechin) runs from Brechin to Bridge of Dun, which was the junction on the main line. It doesnt go as far as Montrose.
 

clc

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Never possible to achieve one hour journey time from Perth to Aberdeen via Dundee and Montrose even non stop due to tortuous coastal route. Perth-Forfar via former route then new build Forfar-Brechin-Laurencekirk in the same corridor as the A90 would create 125mph route and allow sub one hour journey time. Get on with it asap.

Operating costs would almost double as you'd need to have separate Glasgow-Aberdeen and Glasgow-Dundee fast services. Revenue wouldn't increase by the same factor so its difficult to imagine it having an acceptable business case.
 

najaB

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Operating costs would almost double as you'd need to have separate Glasgow-Aberdeen and Glasgow-Dundee fast services. Revenue wouldn't increase by the same factor so its difficult to imagine it having an acceptable business case.
Indeed. It makes more sense to speed up Dundee-Aberdeen as then both Glasgow and Edinburgh services would benefit.
 

deltic08

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Operating costs would almost double as you'd need to have separate Glasgow-Aberdeen and Glasgow-Dundee fast services. Revenue wouldn't increase by the same factor so its difficult to imagine it having an acceptable business case.

The reason for Usan doubling is to increase capacity for more trains not longer trains so operating costs will increase anyway. It should be possible for Glasgow-Aberdeen trains to run via both routes especially if trains via Strathmore are 20-30 minutes faster and increases growth.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Indeed. It makes more sense to speed up Dundee-Aberdeen as then both Glasgow and Edinburgh services would benefit.

And how would you do that any cheaper than reinstating through Strathmore?
 

Altnabreac

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Operating costs would almost double as you'd need to have separate Glasgow-Aberdeen and Glasgow-Dundee fast services. Revenue wouldn't increase by the same factor so its difficult to imagine it having an acceptable business case.

Indeed. We had this same discussion on the Scotland Route Study thread back in January. The short answer is that bypassing Dundee is not and would not be acceptable for any major investment in the north of Scotland rail network.

Never possible to achieve one hour journey time from Perth to Aberdeen via Dundee and Montrose even non stop due to tortuous coastal route. Perth-Forfar via former route then new build Forfar-Brechin-Laurencekirk in the same corridor as the A90 would create 125mph route and allow sub one hour journey time. Get on with it asap.

Spending a lot of money on Perth - Forfar is of comparatively small benefit as it only helps boost journey times for Glasgow - Aberdeen and Perth - Aberdeen travellers.

Spending a similar (or likely smaller) amount on Usan doubling and cut off, Arbroath remodelling, Dundee Dock Street tunnel improvements and general line speed improvements and signalling replacement should shave something like 5-10 minutes off current times.

Short formed HSTs, non stop Intercity services and eventually electrification will generate more time savings in future.

Given the fastest services between Dundee and Aberdeen are 70 minutes with 2 stops at Arbroath and Stonehaven and 21 minutes between Perth and Dundee then you can imagine sub 60 for Dundee - Aberdeen and somewhere in the region of 75 minutes being a realistic Perth - Aberdeen time.

I doubt you'll get much below that figure for Perth - Aberdeen via Forfar without spending very large amounts of money on an entirely new alignment.
 

deltic08

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Indeed. We had this same discussion on the Scotland Route Study thread back in January. The short answer is that bypassing Dundee is not and would not be acceptable for any major investment in the north of Scotland rail network.



Spending a lot of money on Perth - Forfar is of comparatively small benefit as it only helps boost journey times for Glasgow - Aberdeen and Perth - Aberdeen travellers.

Spending a similar (or likely smaller) amount on Usan doubling and cut off, Arbroath remodelling, Dundee Dock Street tunnel improvements and general line speed improvements and signalling replacement should shave something like 5-10 minutes off current times.

Short formed HSTs, non stop Intercity services and eventually electrification will generate more time savings in future.

Given the fastest services between Dundee and Aberdeen are 70 minutes with 2 stops at Arbroath and Stonehaven and 21 minutes between Perth and Dundee then you can imagine sub 60 for Dundee - Aberdeen and somewhere in the region of 75 minutes being a realistic Perth - Aberdeen time.

I doubt you'll get much below that figure for Perth - Aberdeen via Forfar without spending very large amounts of money on an entirely new alignment.

If you are talking about non-stop services, I assume you mean Dundee-Aberdeen, then what is the point of running all Glasgow-Aberdeen trains via Dundee? Leave that to Edinburgh-Dundee-Aberdeen services and reinstate Strathmore.

Short formed HSTs and eventual electrification would also reduce journey times via Strathmore. A Forfar train could almost be at Stanley Junction before a Dundee train has negotiated the curving single track in the Perth suburbs.

A new Edinburgh-Perth route through Glenfarg and then via a reinstated Strathmore route would reduce Edinburgh-Aberdeen to 1 hour 45 minutes. Can we really afford to run all trains via Dundee including freight?
 

najaB

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Can we really afford to run all trains via Dundee including freight?
Skipping the largest population/economic centre between Aberdeen and Glasgow to save 20 minutes isn't going to fly.

A Forfar train could almost be at Stanley Junction before a Dundee train has negotiated the curving single track in the Perth suburbs.
Then fix the curving single track. A new bridge across the Tay is going to be cheaper than 40 miles of largely new-build track.
 

NotATrainspott

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If you are talking about non-stop services, I assume you mean Dundee-Aberdeen, then what is the point of running all Glasgow-Aberdeen trains via Dundee? Leave that to Edinburgh-Dundee-Aberdeen services and reinstate Strathmore.

Short formed HSTs and eventual electrification would also reduce journey times via Strathmore. A Forfar train could almost be at Stanley Junction before a Dundee train has negotiated the curving single track in the Perth suburbs.

A new Edinburgh-Perth route through Glenfarg and then via a reinstated Strathmore route would reduce Edinburgh-Aberdeen to 1 hour 45 minutes. Can we really afford to run all trains via Dundee including freight?

An express service between Glasgow and Dundee is just as important as an express service between Glasgow and Aberdeen. Even if a completely brand new high speed alignment was built to Aberdeen it would serve Dundee, since the benefits to be had by stopping there far exceed the loss caused by the increased journey time to non-Dundee passengers.

As Altnabraec says we had this discussion a few months ago and there's absolutely nothing to indicate that any transport plans have changed since then or indeed ever will. The only real differences in opinion about the rail network amongst Scotland's politicians is the ordering of the various plausible reopenings.
 

deltic08

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An express service between Glasgow and Dundee is just as important as an express service between Glasgow and Aberdeen. Even if a completely brand new high speed alignment was built to Aberdeen it would serve Dundee, since the benefits to be had by stopping there far exceed the loss caused by the increased journey time to non-Dundee passengers.

As Altnabraec says we had this discussion a few months ago and there's absolutely nothing to indicate that any transport plans have changed since then or indeed ever will. The only real differences in opinion about the rail network amongst Scotland's politicians is the ordering of the various plausible reopenings.

I am not saying don't run Glasgow-Aberdeen via Dundee but also run a service through Strathmore.
 

najaB

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I am not saying don't run Glasgow-Aberdeen via Dundee but also run a service through Strathmore.
I wasn't aware there was enough unmet demand to merit doubling the Glasgow-Aberdeen service provision. Unless you're proposing reducing Aberdeen-Dundee/Dundee-Glasgow service levels?
 
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