scotland (4K)
The Friends of the Far North Line
Cairdean Na Loine Tuath
the campaign group for rail north of Inverness - lobbying for improved services for the local user, tourist and freight operator


It is the 30th Anniversary of the Conference on the future of the North Line, held in Wick in November 1972. The conference agreed that steps would be taken to form an action committee to further the ideas underlying the Scottish Association for Public Transport's (SAPT) Study Paper No. 1. A meeting subsequently took place in Brora on January 18th.

The Wick meeting had in mind a widely representative body to further its interests involving tourist and community associations and big industrial users. The latter on a section that, whatever happened to the passenger services, would likely be retained for freight. A farmers representative stated that the main business was the transport of seed potatoes. Representatives of the Orkney Islands explained that they had secured a connection into the forenoon train from the ferry saving a wait of 5 hours.

At the next meeting held in Thurso attention was to be paid to the reduction of waiting times in Inverness and a speedier journey-time by crossing improvements. In respect of longer-term proposals it was suggested that Sutherland County should be asked to reserve the route for the Dornoch 'cut-off' in their future planning. On road building it was felt that too much attention was being paid to through traffic and too little to the needs of the localities themselves.

The above article arrived just as I was reading "Highland Whistle Blower" by Phil Durham. The main thrust of the book relates to his activities within the new Highlands and Islands Development Board and its involvement with developments with industry in Invergordon. However his opening chapter describes the formation, in March 1964, of the Vigilantes Group to protect the future of the Far North Line in view of the proposed Beeching cuts. (Does anyone have a copy of the logo which used a kilted Thomas the Tank Engine face labelled MacPuff?)

The final coincidence was an obituary to Professor Hondelink that appeared in the opposite column of the SAPT article. He was a widely respected expert on transport systems and had produced a report for the 'Vigilantes' as a result of his own interest in the Scottish transport scene.