A welcome to the ScotRail Summer Timetable. Far North improvements from 28 May include:
- end to end journey time reduced by an average of 18 minutes
- the first train south at 6.32 from Wick and 6.59 from Thurso runs through to Edinburgh - the evening train north is through from Edinburgh
- the Dingwall commuter has a connection at Inverness for Aberdeen
Despite their shortcomings, 158 trains have the capacity to run at 90 mph. ScotRail have cut minutes off the schedules. If Railtrack can raise line speeds on the straighter sections of the track more will be achieved.
A staged improvement has started south of Inverness with the introduction of a ninth daily service to/from central Scotland. The 9.13 from Inverness to Glasgow has been long awaited, and is complemented by an 8.40 Edinburgh to Inverness service. Unfortunately the published timetables show no catering on four trains in each direction - it is to be hoped this will be rectified. Elsewhere to the south the seated coach on the night London train makes a welcome return.
Railtrack are to be congratulated on brightening up our stations. Their programme of refurbishing all 333 stations in Scotland is almost complete. The improved access, seating and shelters at Muir of Ord are much appreciated. Only at Invergordon is serious neglect in evidence.
The Tain commuter train starts in the autumn. The 8 minute earlier running of the existing train from Dingwall together with the delayed evening start from Inverness may be less attractive. We will not take our eye off the need for improvements in services around the inner Moray Firth coastal area.
Finally the Friends will continue to press for an all year round end to end Sunday afternoon/evening train in each direction serving the 60,000 people living within 5 miles of the Far North Line to the north of Inverness.