Work includes track-doubling between Aberdeen and Inverurie, signalling improvements at Elgin, relocation of Forres station, and work to prepare for the addition of new stations at Kintore and Dalcross. Platforms will also be extended at Insch and Elgin to accommodate six-car trains.

The enhancements to the line will eventually allow an hourly service between Inverness and Aberdeen with a journey time of around two hours.

"This investment is all part of our programme to ensure Scotland has a railway fit for the future," Salmond says. "Our £5bn commitment to rail infrastructure and services is addressing decades of neglect on the railways throughout Scotland."

Transport Scotland has also given the go-ahead to Scotland's franchise operator, First ScotRail, to introduce an enhanced timetable from May 18, which includes the addition of an hourly Aberdeen – Glasgow service between 09.00 and 18.00.

"We are seeing strong demand for Sunday services between Aberdeen and Glasgow," says Mr Steve Montgomery, ScotRail managing director. "Adding four express trains in each direction will give people many more journey opportunities throughout the day."

For a detailed report on Scotland railway investment plans see the April 2013 issue of IRJ, p24, or click here.