Convention strongly enjoins one not to look a gift horse in the mouth. Accordingly, and unreservedly, the re-opening of Beauly station is great news. A pleasure deferred is no less welcome, it may even be enhanced; awaiting curtain up in the theatre often adds a heightened degree of expectation.
We may fairly hope, however, that one lesson has been learned. Platforms in any reinstated stations should be adequate for at least a 4 coach train. Minimum 'dwell times' are vital for efficient operation, and we don't want our new commuter customers falling off the stage!
You might not think of it, from overstated, near gleeful reaction in far too much of the media every time the railway suffers an 'incident' but, despite the manifold distractions of being in administration, Railtrack has continued to keep the show on the road in the long standing tradition of true railwaymen. The Kyle line has been re-opened on time and to budget on completion of £2.5m remedial works necessitated by rockfall on the shores of Loch Carron; locally, regular upgrading on a smaller scale has seen the northbound platform at Muir of Ord raised, and the northbound platform at Helmsdale strengthened and refaced.
Other voluntary groups up and down the country - I am thinking in particular of the Heart of Wales Line Travellers' Association and the Friends of the Settle and Carlisle Line for example, but there are many others - are very much more actively involved in practical support of 'their Railway' than we seem inclined to be, in publicity for regular services and special events, in caring for and brightening up local stations and so on. I feel sure Network Rail and ScotRail would readily welcome any properly co-ordinated proposal. What do members think?
The idea has been mooted that we should seek a wider membership and make ourselves better known, but the response was barely perceptible. We can only be as effective as you will encourage us to be. Please let us have some input this time!