Dualling the rail track at Montrose will be “actively” taken forward by the Scottish Government, according to First Minister Alex Salmond.
He was responding to North East Scotland Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald, who asked if the SNP leader agreed with claims by transport lobby group Transform Scotland that journey times between Aberdeen and the central belt “would be greatly improved by double tracking the one short stretch of single track on the east coast main line at Montrose”.
Mr Salmond said Transport Minister Keith Brown would “actively take forward that issue”.
He added: “That is most certainly something that the Scottish Government is prepared to consider. The dual tracking of the Aberdeen line and the Inverness line offers substantial improvements to journey times.”
The First Minister came under fire from Conservative MSP Liz Smith for failing to deliver on an SNP promise to reduce journey time on the Edinburgh to Inverness rail route by 35 minutes by 2012.
She said: “Instead of answering why his SNP Scottish Government has not met the target to reduce the journey time on the Edinburgh to Inverness line he decided to talk about Aberdeen to Inverness instead of facing up to his broken pledge.
“Many people in Perthshire and Fife commute to work in Inverness and increasingly residents north of the Central Belt are asking why the SNP are failing to invest in our rail network.”
Mr Salmond responded that there has been a 33% rise in passenger numbers, 26.5 miles of new railway line and an investment programme “twice that of the UK Government”.