Network Rail successfully commissioned the first phase of signalling improvements on the line between Aberdeen and Stonehaven over the weekend to increase capacity on the line for the introduction of additional services.

Engineers worked continuously from Saturday night to Monday morning to bring into service new LED signals and axle-counters.  Newtonhill signal box was de-commissioned and control of the signalling section relocated to Aberdeen.

Commissioning of new signalling delivers increased capacity on the line ahead of the May timetable change and enables more trains to move through the area safely and more efficiently. It will support the improvement of rail freight operations, provides additional capacity for local services in the future and improve operational flexibility within Aberdeen station.

Part of a wider £13.5m project between Aberdeen and Stonehaven to increase capacity, the work involved track and signalling improvements and the installation of a new track crossover at Craiginches.

The new crossover, to be brought into service as part of the phase 2 commissioning work later in the programme, will reduce the number of freight trains travelling north towards Aberdeen station and help create additional options for passenger services into the city.

Matthew Spence, Network Rail route delivery director said: “Completing these works is an important milestone for the industry as it unlocks additional capacity required for the introduction of new services in May as well as for future development of services in the north east.

“Aberdeen’s rail network is seeing huge levels of investment that will help to create more opportunities for commuting and leisure travel and help grow the economy, putting passengers and freight users first.”

The work between Aberdeen and Stonehaven coincided with the final preparations for the Aberdeen – Inverness blockade which starts next week and further demonstrates the scale of the investment in rail in the area.