Alness Station Steams Ahead
Local folk form group to spruce up the platform
A new era has been signalled for Alness Railway Station with its adoption by the local community. Friends of Alness Station, part of the Alness Community Association, are in the process of taking on the responsibility for improving the station, as part of a scheme being promoted nationally.
It is a way of turning around uncared-for and unloved stations, bringing them back into the heart of the community again and encouraging greater use of environmentally-friendly transport.
The scheme is aimed at mainly small, unstaffed stations which have lacked care following the cuts of the 1960s. Support for station adoptions are provided through the government's Community Rail Development Strategy.
Alness decided that with the town being entered into the Royal Horticultural Society Champion of Champions Competition this year, it would be a good time to try and get the station looking its very best for visitors.
The Friends of Alness Station secured funding and contributions in kind from the Highland Rail Partnership, Alness in Bloom, Community Economic Development and the Alness Initiative, and have now installed six hanging baskets, three flower beds constructed of BlocX from Munro Sawmills, Dingwall and a banner displaying the Alness in Bloom logo and the slogan 'ALNESS.COM CREATING A VISION' at the station. Dr. Stewart Campbell, of Friends of Alness Station, explained: "Alness is just a bare station with a shelter-type waiting area. The station building, a lovely old stone building, was vandalised and burnt down about 20 years ago, Improving the station is something we have talked about for a few years and so when we got the chance of money from various places we decided to take it on as a community. It's just the start because we now plan to create a garden and a picnic area in an area of vacant land beside the station next year with the help from pupils at Alness Academy and people who have been referred to the Green Gym by the health services. We also hope to install a water butt so we can collect rainwater from the shelter roof and use it to water the plants, making the project more sustainable."
Dr Campbell said some local folk could remember the station and the goods yard as it was in the 1950s and there were also plans to compile a small book about the station including people's memories of the station in its heyday.
In addition, he said, it was intended to create a working model railway of the station in the 1950s, involving school pupils and people who remembered the station in days gone by and to display it in the Alness Heritage Centre.
The number of trains using Alness Station has doubled since it became part of the Invernet commuter rail service linking local stations with Inverness.
Dr Campbell said, "Alness used to have three trains a day each way whereas it now has eight trains, and the service is well used by commuters. It's a new era for Alness Station."