Conon to Cromarty Corridor
Beeching Stations Could Reopen With Government Cash
Stations shut during the 1960s "Beeching axe" could be rebuilt under plans announced according to an article under this heading which appeared in The Highland Chieftain on 24th January. "A total of £20 million has been set aside for the plans in which councils, train operators and developers will be invited to bid for the cash. Under the plans, the Government will pay 75% of the cost of building either completely new stations or resurrecting ones which were scrapped decades ago. The move to reopen stations comes with demand for rail travel reaching levels unseen since just after the last war."
A new company called Black Isle Transposition has been set up quickly to build on the successful reopening of Conon Bridge station on 8th February. Their objective is to promote the rebuilding of the line to Cromarty. This would provide another scenic railway to add to the pulling power of the Far North Line for tourists and BBC television producers. A large clientele of daily commuters and consumers is also expected, drawn from the ranks of those who have survived the lemming rush over the Kessock Bridge.
Stations are proposed at Alcaig, Culbokie Parkway, Cullicudden, Alness Ferry (No ferry), Newhall, Jemimaville and Cromarty. Culbokie Parkway, which will be at the south-eastern landfall of the A9 Cromarty Bridge, is envisaged to become a big park-and-ride hub and it has already attracted a Station Adopter. He is former FoFNL newspaper editor, Mr Dodger Darcy. The well-known beekeeper intends to make the station a hive of activity, with starter units franchised out to a farm produce shop, a taxi firm and a garage to repair road vehicles damaged on the bridges and surrounding potholes. A station hotel is seen as a future venture. Black Isle Transposition expects the final 25% of funding to come from local ventures including wind farms, local landowners and entrepreneurs. The Burghers of Cromarty have been "gripped" by the exciting news of the go ahead for this project, which has been "shovel-ready" for a considerable number of years. Venerable newspaper editor, Mr H Miller, has already contributed a handsome sum.
The plan is for the international firm Alstom to supply all the signalling and electrical equipment (overhead wiring, etc.) and also the locomotives and rolling stock. The Contractors will be Nott, Fraser or Mackenzie & Co, successors to the original builders of the line. Also, the Hogg family dynasty from Cromarty has offered to sponsor a headboard for some of the trains - The Hoggwards Express - having heard that Harry Potter author, J. K. Rowling, is to be asked to perform the opening ceremony.
The Royal Assent for the Act of the Scottish Parliament empowering construction of the line was given on Easter Monday and, if all goes according to plan, the line will open on the same date next year.