The Aberdeen to Inverness line was closed between October 7 and 16 to allow major engineering work, including the commissioning of a new station at Forres.
Phase 1 of major infrastructure work on the 108-mile line includes the redoubling of track between Aberdeen and Inverurie, extended platforms at Insch and Elgin, signalling improvements and the relocation of Forres station to a completely new 1.5km alignment on a former goods yard to the north of the old platform.
The latter was formerly a triangular junction station for the Highland Railway route to Aviemore, closed in 1965, but the single curved platform has been replaced by two straight platforms equipped with a modern footbridge and lifts.
The new track was connected during the October closure, with the final trains to the old platform leaving late on October 6.
During the closure, 1.2km of new track was also laid at Elgin, creating a third platform and new stabling siding, redundant signalboxes at Elgin North and Forres were demolished, and a level crossing in Elgin was upgraded to full-barrier control with CCTV.
Long-term the route could include reducing end-to-end journey time to two hours, with an hourly service and new stations at Kintore, between Inverurie and Dyce, and Dalcross, close to Inverness Airport, by 2019.Enabling work for the new stations took place during the recent blockade.
Extra Inverurie-Aberdeen and Elgin-Inverness services are planned by ScotRail Alliance, with a half-hourly service to Inverurie set to start by March 2019.
Read more News and Features in November’s issue of The RM – on sale now!Enjoy more of The Railway Magazine reading every month. Click here to subscribe.