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The Friends of the Far North Line
Cairdean Na Loine Tuath
the campaign group for rail north of Inverness - lobbying for improved services for the local user, tourist and freight operator

Minutes of Committee meeting on 26 May, Dingwall

Present: Richard Ardern (RA), Mike Lunan (ML), Iain MacDonald (IM), Roger Piercy (RP), Angus Stewart (ASt), Janice Stewart (JSt), Anne Sutherland (ASu).

Apologies: Gavin Sinclair.

The minutes of the meeting held on 22nd March were accepted and there were no matters arising.

Arrangements for 2007 AGM
The date was fixed for the posting of the formal announcement of the AGM. Mark Norton will be invited to speak on the formation of DoRLAG. ML tabled a document listing train and bus timetables, places of interest, trips and contact details for accommodation. This will be sent out with the formal announcement.

Newsletter 41
RP circulated a draft copy of the newsletter which will be produced in the first week of June.

JSt reported that the accounts had been audited and thanked RA for his co-operation in dealing with Tenon on her behalf. The accounts were signed and will sent out with the AGM announcement by RP. The finances are in good order and we had received an acknowledgement of our donation to the Railway Children Charity.

ASt reported that there 138 paid up members and 58 yet to renew. ASt will circulate the 58 names to enable committee members to follow up. Only those people who are in membership and have been sent an AGM announcement will be allowed access to the AGM.

December proposed timetable
Some changes will be introduced but the major recast will occur next year.

John Moore
No communication from his Solicitor but Mr. and Mrs Moore still consider him to be a member and continue to try and pay for 2 memberships. Failure to pay only for Mrs Moore will be taken as a resignation of her membership.

Summit signs
RP will liaise with Frank Roach on Keith Tyler's suggestion that FoFNL raise money to pay for the re-instatement of these signs.

Train faults
RA has been recording, whenever possible, train faults on our lines. The response from FSR was considered less than satisfactory. It would appear that we experience proportionally more failures than else where in the franchise area.

Rail Industry Advisory Committee
ML reported on his first meeting.

Inverness Bridge bash
FoFNL offered some suggestions to FSR on how to minimise disruption to services by suggesting that advantage be taken to bus or taxi passengers between Dingwall and Inverness immediately there is a problem so as to ensure connections can be made.

Publicity for FoFNL
Attempts had been made to circulate FoFNL literature to the various Rail Tours that had taken place in recent months. No one volunteered to take this on as a formal responsibility.

Highland Rail Heritage
It was decided to stand by our previous decision not to be formally represented in this organisation.

Rail Future
As instructed ML wrote to Rail Future to express our concerns and the reply addressed none of our concerns. The matter is closed.

New Transport Minister
ML has made contact with Stewart Stevenson the new Transport Minister. It is hoped that the new Government will find more money to support rail projects.

RA reported on recent HRP meetings. An attempt is being made to increase the number of trains but care must be taken not to dilute the service to the Far North. The Scott Wilson recommendations stand a good chance of acceptance. The freight terminal in Inverness is gathering momentum with the current industrial dispute between Tesco and its drivers helping the move back to rail. Highlands and Islands Enterprise are to study the Invernet services and HRP is to be included under the control of HITRANS whose new Director, David Duthie is soon to take up post.

IM raised the problem of a shortage of taxis and buses to handle the passengers alighting form the cruise liners in Invergordon. RP will liase with FR on this to see if FSR could provide trains to take passengers to places of interest.

ML mentioned the publicity given to the completion of another Corus report commissioned by DoRLAG. It would appear to have confirmed the original findings and is making the same suggestion that a further study be made into the 'nuts and bolts' of the crossing of the Dornoch Firth. FoFNL is still of the opinion that the Scottish Executive should be the controller of such a study so that it can be seen to be completely independent.

ASu reported that the Commuter service has been reasonably reliable with only a few platform and train changes being needed. She felt that the biking fraternity were not happy with the service being provided.

RA referred to an article in the Press & Journal which mentioned a pilot project to "deep clean" the tracks in Aberdeen Station which if successful could be rolled out across Scotland.