Summer Timetable Review
No Change On Far North
Despite reductions of 1 - 3 minutes on Inverness - Kyle timings the opportunity to reduce Far North Line timings has been passed over. The published weekday timetable remains unchanged. Seasonal Request Stops at Dunrobin are re-introduced. Sunday trains will again run for only three months, from 28th June to 19th September.
ScotRail are to be congratulated on their decision to continue the Monday to Friday Dingwall to Inverness morning commuter train for a further full year. The success of this service, now loading to over 40 passengers daily, owes much to FoFNL, the Enterprise bodies and the Highland Council as well as ScotRail itself. Unfortunately the decision came too late for inclusion within the 1,944 pages of the Great Britain Passenger Railway Summer Timetable. However there seems no good reason for the omission of these trains from the supplement which accompanies that publication.
Regular travellers on the Far North Line know that the timetable contains time usually passed standing at stations. The long planned and now achieved lifting of the severe speed restriction at the Mid Fearn farm crossings between Tain and Ardgay could have been accompanied by an advanced plan to effect a one minute reduction in timings between these two stations. In their Scotland Network Management Statement for 1998 Railtrack envisage no improvement to the already best Inverness - Thurso timing of 3 hours 39 minutes. Given the limited halting of trains at some request stops, is there not a place for a Risk Assessment over the probability of arrival at or before booked time? Why can we not have a 3 hour 30 minute Inverness - Thurso timing with commensurate saving to/from Wick?
Elsewhere it is good to see the morning HST from Inverness booked to Perth in under 2 hours and Kings Cross under 8. ScotRail need to compete more effectively on the Inverness - Edinburgh corridor. In particular a limited stop service from Inverness at around 9 a.m. could connect off the Dingwall commuter train.