We knew that First ScotRail and Network Rail are keen to see uses found for the unused station buildings and that there is a new scheme to improve the routes of access to stations where necessary. We decided to do an objective survey of all the stations to see just how passenger friendly they appeared to be.
At the time of writing around half the surveys have been completed, and we hope to have the whole line completed (including Inverness - no mean task) by the end of May.
We hope to submit the findings to FSR and NR in time for them to let us have their reactions at our AGM on 30 June.
So far the majority of the check-list items which are within FSR's competence are satisfactory, with very little requiring attention. The Network Rail responsibilities are harder to assess - how important is it, for example, that the condition of the platform (surface, edge painting, tactile strip) at a place like Forsinard is 100% compliant? And if Forsinard has to be 100%, what about Scotscalder? FoFNL is realistic enough to accept that there are probably higher priorities, even on the FNL, than these. On the other hand, quite useful improvements could be carried out for pretty small amounts of money and time. The real eye-opener has been in invoking the concept of Safer Routes to Stations and in signposting. In quite a few cases the walking route to and from the town centre is woefully badly signed - in the case of Brora there is no sign to the station at all from the A9. Admittedly it's only about 40m off the main road, but that's no help to visitors. Our full Report will be printed in the September Newsletter.