Far North Line Train Service Enhancements
As members will know, in September, 2010, the Friends of the Far North Line tabled fully timed and resourced proposals for an hourly train service between Inverness and Tain. Whilst they were greeted enthusiastically at the time, since then they have been "stuck in a loop". Transport Scotland (TS) and The Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership (HITRANS) will not take the proposals forward without a business case, which neither is willing to do. We are not in a position to do it either. We are still looking for someone to help us out and a volunteer would be welcome.
Although an hourly service still remains FoFNL policy, preferably with improved journey times, in late February, as the success of the train service during the Kessock Bridge works was becoming apparent, we sent some further proposals to the railway industry for enhancement of the present train service. Our main criterion is that they should require no additional rolling stock or traincrews but must be achievable by making better use of the resources we already have. Indeed, they could work either with or without the two additional Diesel Multiple Units we currently have for the bridge works. Briefly, the proposals are:
- Additional service from Inverness at 16.07
- Additional service from Inverness at 18.42
- Additional service arriving Inverness at 06.44
- Additional service arriving Inverness at 10.06 on Saturdays
- Additional service arriving Inverness at 18.36
- Retiming of some other services to even out intervals and fit around additional trains
- Additional service from Conon Bridge and Beauly to Inverness to fill the late morning gap
The proposals were accompanied by details of how the trains were to be covered within existing resources and by a commentary outlining why we were making each one. Our intention is that they would continue sine die, rather than just for the Kessock works. We were advised by TS that they had delegated our proposals to HITRANS. However, the latter's response was less than enthusiastic so, on 10th April, three committee members met HITRANS' Frank Roach in his office on Lairg station to discuss our proposals. Whilst we were able to agree that they use the resources we already have better and that there is merit in them, the major stumbling block is freight. There are a number of paths in the working timetable for various flows. None is used daily. Some are weekly and others are not currently used at all. However, the owners of these paths have rights. We agreed with Frank that we would take these points away and work on them further. At press date, this is where we stand.