Rail passengers in Aberdeen will not be able to board the Aberdonian steam train named after their city.
A new service between Edinburgh and the city launches in March next year, but all journeys will start and finish in the capital.
North-east Labour MSP, Lewis Macdonaldsaid yesterday: “I am sure The Aberdonian steam train will be a great success, but it’s a pity that, under current plans, passengers can’t get on board in Aberdeen. I hope the operators of the new service will be able to issue single tickets both ways, as well as a return excursion from Edinburgh, so that Aberdonians can travel with The Aberdonian without having to go to Edinburgh first.”
The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, which will operate the services, admitted that anybody who wants to use the trains will have to make their way to Edinburgh to get on board. And once they have been on the return trip, they will have to make their way back to Aberdeen.
Five trains will run in 2019, with the potential for expansion in the following years, and the scheme has the support of Network Rail. The initiative has been assisted by the installation of a new £86,000 turntable in Aberdeen by the Ferryhill Railway Heritage Trust.
But its chairman, Jon Tyler, admitted yesterday there was still plenty of work to be done before services could be run from the city.
He said: “I suppose it’s just a case of demand. If a charter train could be linked into an existing itinerary, say for the proposed cruise ship visits [to the new Aberdeen Harbour], it might be possible to do it in the future.
“What you have to remember is that all the main steam locomotives and rolling stock are based down south, so they would need to make extra journeys at the beginning and end if these were to start from Aberdeen.
“In addition, the longer-term secure storage of locomotives won’t be possible at Ferryhill until the shed is repaired and the tracks relaid.”
The new trains are likely to prove popular with those who can afford the time and money to use them.
Adult tickets are priced at £99 for Standard Class, £159 for First Class and £235 for dining in the First-Class facilities.
But Graeme Bunker-James, operations director and trustee of the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, said there was no current provision for journeys leaving from the North-east.