1999 marks the 125th Anniversary of the completion of the Far North Line. 25 years ago this railway did well to survive the ravages of the Beeching cuts. Now the gradual decline in the condition of the stations and the cessation of freight traffic has been reversed. The future depends on building up the present loss leader regular freight train. The key to this is traffic into and out of the Caithness economy.
John Holwell of EWS has worked valiantly at getting freight back on our railway. Government policy increasingly encourages transfer of freight from road to rail. Further south, Eddie Stobart has developed his company train between Mossend and Daventry. Here in the Highlands Safeway are transferring 3000 lorry loads a year from road to rail between central Scotland and Inverness. The longer the haul the better the economies of the rail choice. Can shippers in the North respond?
In the 124th year we celebrated steam with a nostalgic weekend. It would be great if the long term viability of our railway was achieved through increasing freight flows, leading to improved track and greater passenger appeal.