15th April 2002 saw three openings on one day - Beauly station, the Thurso freight yard and although at a distance, the Malcolm Rail Container depot at Grangemouth. The first two bring direct benefit to the line and the third potentially so. Scottish Ministers attended the latter two with Lewis Macdonald performing the rites at Thurso.
By contrast the opening of Beauly station was low key. FoFNL was represented by Roger Piercy, Newsletter Editor, one of whose photographs appears in this issue. Some years earlier after meeting the Beauly Community Council, Frank Roach, then Secretary of FoFNL had advocated a station; your committee pursued it; the Highland Railway Partnership became committed; and the rail industry, Enterprise bodies and Highland Council funded it. Today this simple station serves as a beacon of public service and environmental good.
FoFNL would like to thank all those who carried through intricate negotiations whether locally or nationally. There were difficulties from which learning can be drawn. Some thoughts are:-
- transport planning includes environmental as well as socio-economic assessment,
- whilst project development includes customer specification, design work and planning approval, specific reactions from relevant quasi-governmental bodies are needed along the way,
- planning, design, construction and commissioning take longer than people recognise,
- however thorough the consultations 'you can not please all the people all the time'.
To give balance to local reactions a reprinted article of criticism over the delayed opening is included in this issue.
FoFNL hope this small station will be an exemplar for future rural rail station development. For now may the people of Beauly enjoy using their station.