North East MSP Alison McInnes has welcomed proposals by transport partnership Nestrans to extend Aberdeen rail services from Inverness to Montrose.
This would follow improvements to the current Aberdeen to Inverness line, which are expected to cost more than £200m.
The improvements, scheduled to take place after 2015, would include a new station at Kintore and increased capacity on the Aberdeen to Dyce section of the track.
The aim is to have an hourly service between the two cities, taking less than two hours.
Nestrans director Derick Murray told Mrs McInnes that once these Network Rail and ScotRail proposals are published in May, consideration will be given to extending the Inverness services southward, perhaps as far as Montrose.
In a letter to the Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP he said: “If achievable, this would allow trains to provide a national service between Inverness and Aberdeen with local services between Aberdeen and Montrose.”
This would mirror the recent successful introduction of extending Central Belt rail services beyond Aberdeen to Inverurie.
Mr Murray continued: “This begins to build the local Aberdeenshire service that is needed to provide a suitable alternative to the car.”
Mrs McInnes commented: “This is welcome news. However, given the scale of the investment required, these costs can only be afforded by the Scottish Government. I will be pressing case with the Transport Minister.
“Recent figures on the rising passenger figures in North East stations prove beyond doubt there is a great demand for regular local rail services.”