Developing And Holding Traffic
A welcome for the timber traffic - 25 full train loads out of Kinbrace each year. The oil train runs to Lairg each week. Bremner is developing traffic through Thurso. However this summer's floods saw a temporary loss of Safeway boxes to the road.
The all line Sunday evening passenger trains are assured for the winter. The earlier southbound departure gives better connections onwards but shortens a weekend in the north. Our proposal for an additional later train north on Fridays stands.
Progress towards a two hourly interval south of Tain is encouraging. I first voiced this objective at our AGM 5 years ago. Highland Railway Partnership took it on board and Frank Roach worked hard to develop the "Invernet" proposal offering around seven trains each way. ScotRail, Highland Council and Highlands & Islands Enterprise support it and the Strategic Rail Authority has given its backing. It could operate in Autumn 2003.
Too often returning commuters have faced overcrowding or delay awaiting the connecting train from Edinburgh. Difficulties over punctuality of trains and reliability of radio signalling reception have been compounded by flood damage to the south this summer, first at Slochd, then Pitlochry and most recently south from Culloden.
Two years ago Railtrack did a magnificent job reinstating the embankment at the Nairn Valley viaduct. Much damage this summer has been caused by earthslides. These catastrophes raise questions as to how often culverts are inspected for impediments and whether such inspections have been stepped up over the last two years.
Solutions are what matters, be they engineering or operational. Without consistency of overall performance traffic growth will be held back.