TOPICAL MATTERS and NEWS
The FoFNL AGM is fast approaching!
It is on Friday 19th June at the Glen Mhor Hotel, Ness Bank, Inverness, IV2 4SG; Tel:01463 234308
The meeting starts at 11:00 and the Conference section begins at 11:45. Proceedings resume at 14:00 after lunch, with tea at 15:30.
May 2015 Newsletter
The online version of the May 2015 newsletter is now available.
As well as the usual updates about the Far North Line and the railways from Aberdeen and the south that feed in to Inverness, this issue has a couple of articles written by experienced railwaymen. The current operators of our railways will find these to be of great interest.
If after reading all this you need a cup of tea you might be inspired to visit Dingwall station as described in one of the articles .
If you enjoy this newsletter and would like to receive a hard copy of future newsletters as soon as they are published, rather than four weeks later online, please consider joining FoFNL . Clearly the more members we have, the more effective a lobby group we can be.
Dunrobin 21st June - Steam Special
ScotRail is running a series of steam trips, details here , on 20th - 22nd June.
The trip on the 21st is from Inverness to Brora. You can also join the train at Invergordon for the journey north.
The locomotive rostered for the trip is the A1 Pacific, Tornado, which was built in 2008, a project to give an example of a famous class, none of which had been preserved.
Daniel Brittain-Catlin of Dunrobin Station commented:
Dunrobin station is very proud to be hosting the first of Scotrail's steam specials-the first to be run by a franchise TOC I think.
The station museum will be open for tours displaying the Duke's waiting room, the staff waiting room, the lever frame box and the restored loo opened by Michael Portillo (as seen on Great British Railway Journeys)
Station souvenirs will be on sale including postcards, key rings, mugs, fridge magnets and tea towels.
I hope as many [FoFNL] members as possible will be able to come to Dunrobin on the Sunday as part of their excursions over the AGM weekend. Even better if they book up for the steam special from Inverness to Dunrobin departing on the Sunday morning.
Our May issue of Far North Express has now been published. At 36 pages it is the biggest yet!
If you are reading this and are not a member of FoFNL please join and support us. If you are a member and have noticed the omission on the back page here is the missing web address for Peter Moore the photographer:www.pwmooreimages.com/
Serco Sleeper Sustenance
Dingwall is continuing its tradition of providing sustenance for long distance rail passengers which started with the overnight wartime Jellicoe specials from London to Thurso.
The new Caledonian Sleeper has introduced a multi choice menu with lamb, haggis, chicken, fish pie, vegetable curry, and macaroni cheese options all sourced from Dingwall. Who could resist "Award-winning Cockburn's haggis, neeps and Dochcarty tatties served with a whisky sauce"? Follow this in the morning with "Creamy Highland porridge with Caithness honey"!
A History of Helmsdale Station
Mike Willmot will give a talk about the history of Helmsdale Station from opening to the present restoration on Saturday 13th June 2:00pm at Timespan, Dunrobin Street, Helmsdale KW8 6JA.
This will be followed by a tour of the station house at 4:00pm.
Full details available here
HITRANS Spring Newsletter
The Spring 2015 HITRANS newsletter is available on their website.
This is well worth a look with information about proposals for Inverness Station and Inverness Airport among other things.
Alliance Managing Director for Scotland
Abellio and Network Rail have announced the appointment of Phil Verster as managing director for the planned Abellio ScotRail/Network Rail Alliance. This follows on from the earlier announcement of the Day One leadership team for Abellio.
Full details of the appointment can be read on the Abellio website.
Sturgeon acknowledges necessity of good rail services for the Highlands
At the Scottish Cabinet meeting held in Inverness on 23rd March First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, was upbeat about rail travel in comments she made as part of the launch of the new Serco sleeper service between Scotland and London.
"We have a duty to make sure that Inverness and the Highlands are well connected to the rest of Scotland, just as we need to make sure that Scotland is well connected to the rest of the UK."
She added: "We want to see people travelling by train and by public transport as much as possible but that's not a substitute for things like dualling the A9 and we have plans in place to do that. These things shouldn't be either or. If you live in the central belt you don't expect to choose between good roads and good train services, and if you live in the Highlands you shouldn't have to choose either."
Highland MSP given Abellio assurances
Abellio's UK Rail Development Director, Mike Kean, has assured Highland MSP Rhoda Grant at a meeting on March 11th that "we will start to see improvements along the line and we can expect a dramatically improved service by the end of 2018."
Abellio took over the ScotRail franchise on April 1st and is under pressure to restore public faith in the Far North Line as soon as possible, ending a lengthy period of desperately unreliable service with a huge number of cancellations, uncompleted journeys and skipped station stops.
FoFNL will be lobbying Network Rail and Transport Scotland as well as Abellio for the serious investment that is needed so urgently.
FoFNL is delighted to report that we now have a Convener. Mike Lunan has agreed to take on this vital office again, having already been FoFNL Convener between 2005 and 2009. This is especially good news as it coincides with the start of the new ScotRail franchise with Abellio - there is much to be done!
FoFNL Policy for CP6
FoFNL has produced a policy document
setting out our aspirations and recommendations for Network Rail to include in its planning for Control Period 6 (CP6) 2019-2024.
Part 2 of this document was produced at the end of October.
Welcome to the Friends of The Far North Line
The Friends of the Far North Line is the campaign group for rail north of Inverness, lobbying for improved services for local users, tourists and freight.
Our website will give you an insight to FoFNL's successes and concerns. You will find a complete collection of newsletters dating back to 1998 as well as an archive of interesting documents.
This is a map of the Far North Line which is situated in the northernmost part of Scotland. Hovering the pointer over the name of a station will display a local photo.
Our aims include:
- The continued retention and improvement of the line from Inverness to Wick/Thurso.
- The development of services for local residents and tourists alike.
- Enhancement of freight services.
- Publicising the line, its attractions and potential.
- Liaison with local groups to foster interest in the line.
- Liaison with ScotRail, statutory bodies and tourism authorities.
- The use of the line by heritage trains.
Our 1995 conference for rail interests was the precursor of the Highland Rail Partnership a collaborative body spanning the Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, local Enterprise companies, rail operators, the Friends Groups and others.
Achievements include the Easter Ross commuter train, Beauly and Conon Bridge stations, all-year Sunday trains, initiating the re-introduction of significant freight, the transporting of extremely long lengths of pipe to Wick, and the building of a footbridge alongside the Shin Viaduct. A substantial increase in freight is still needed and we will continue to persuade haulage contractors that there is an alternative to driving long distances over inadequate roads.
We continue to seek shortened journey times and hourly services between Inverness and Tain. We aim to work in partnerships, we publish a thrice yearly Newsletter, we are democratically governed through our AGM and a geographically representative committee.
If you would like to join The Friends of The Far North Line please download, print out and complete the application form. If you prefer, you can phone our Membership Secretary on +44 (0)1334 475311. Annual membership is only 12 UK pounds (10 for concessions).
Rt. Hon. John Thurso
Malcolm George Wood
29, Ethelwulf Road
36 Learmonth Place
Bob Barnes-Watts, Inverness
Iain Macdonald, Alness
Richard Ardern, Inverness
Stewart Campbell, Alness
The photo of Culrain station was taken by Peter Van Den Bossche and the photo of Altnabreac by Dennis Troughton. Both are used under the Creative Commons Licence.