The two extra weekday services being provided between Inverness and the south from 12 December will improve some of the connections with the Far North Line (FNL). They demonstrate the value of providing hourly service frequencies on the lines from Inverness to Perth and Aberdeen which is the Scottish Government's stated intention.
The retiming of the 09:18 from Inverness to Glasgow to depart at 08:43 will improve connections out of the 06:34 commuter train from Lairg and there will be a new 07:26 commuter train from Elgin to Inverness, arriving at 08:14, which will also make the connection.
The connection from the 06:21 from Kyle will be broken, but there is to be a new 09:41 from Inverness to Edinburgh which will provide an onward service to the south. The extra train from Elgin will mean that, just like the FNL, that route will also now have three trains arriving in Inverness before 9 a.m., surely a wise bonus to take people off the busy A96 trunk road. The question will be whether the 17:11 (in particular) and the 18:10 return services will now have sufficient seats.
The tight connection from the 06:20 Wick to Inverness into the retimed 10:45 to Edinburgh will be reduced from 12 to 10 minutes. The even tighter 5-minute connection from the 12:36 from Wick will be eased with the service to the south being put back until 17.22 so that it will also provide a connection with the 14:35 from Kyle. Overall, in the southbound direction, connections are much improved.
Northbound information is sketchier. Some of the trains seem to be slowed down due to fitting the extra trains into the single-line crossing places. This demonstrates that improved infrastructure is also required to accommodate more trains, including freight services. With the recent completion of the M80 motorway taking 10 minutes off the travelling time to Glasgow, it is essential that the Glasgow trains are also speeded up as it has now become quicker by bus.
The principal northbound changes are that the 16:11 from Glasgow to Inverness will run an hour earlier, arriving at 18:28, and there will be a new train at 18:11, reaching Inverness at 21:43. Connections with FNL trains would appear to be unaffected. On Sundays there will be one extra train each way.