Freight And Passenger Developments
New Year 2002 sees three significant freight developments - the return after 10 years of oil traffic to Lairg, improved access and freight facilities at Thurso, and substantial progress towards moving timber at Kinbrace.
The weekly BP oil train, hauled by an EWS Class 66 locomotive arrives at Lairg from the Grangemouth Refinery every Tuesday at 17.00. After shunting manoeuvres including the use of two new devegitated sidings up to eight wagons of 21 tonne tare and 50 tonnes gross simultaneously disgorge their oil cargo through pumps connecting to static storage tanks on the Wednesday. The train departs south at 09.00 on Thursdays.
A two stage development is in progress at Thurso. The EWS funded strengthened bridge over the river is now complete enabling Class 66 locomotives to access the yard. The recent award of a Freight Facilities Grant of £289,000 to Thurso Building Supplies will improve facilities for Open Access to the yard for customers here.
Plans for Kinbrace envisage extracted timber being conveyed out by rail in trains of up to 21 wagon length 25 times each year.
FoFNL welcomes each of these developments and would like to thank both Highland Rail Developments and all the businesses who have contributed to these rail related commercial initiatives.
On the passenger side the new Thurso/Wick to Edinburgh/Glasgow £29 Apex Return Fare and its equivalent from Dingwall of £25 are welcome. Both FoFNL and the people of Beauly wait in anticipation that the difficulties experienced around the opening of the station will soon be resolved. The level of usage of the new Far North Winter Sunday trains has been widely acclaimed. FoFNL monitoring of passenger numbers departing north from Inverness on the 18.30 over eight Sundays of October and November showed an average loading equivalent to 62.5. Figures collected by an assistant to Frank Roach into a later period are shown on page 14. Whilst there are small variations the message is the same - success!!