Far North Line Train Service Enhancements
As you will know, we are still in limbo over our proposals for an hourly train service between Inverness and Tain owing to the lack of our ability to prepare a business case. In Far North Express 59 we outlined enhancements that we believe could be made to the present train service as an interim measure without requiring any additional rolling stock or traincrews. We subsequently reported in FNE 60 that we were still awaiting a response to this. After reminders to both HITRANS and Transport Scotland (TS), the reply finally came from the latter at the end of November, some nine months after the case was first put. Sadly, despite our calculations that no additional resources would be required, TS has said that it is unable to support the enhanced services at this time. Three reasons were given. Firstly, although the timetable was described as reasonably robust, there was concern about one turnround in the middle of the day. Secondly, TS did not consider that the proposals would be cost-neutral as the revenue from the services would be unlikely to cover the increased mileage. And finally, First ScotRail (FSR) had advised that the only traincrew working to which we had added increased hours could not be covered within the roster and that another driver and guard would be needed. The tight turnround is noted but the increase in the number of bus services paralleling the Far North Line over the years indicates that the bus company feels that the limit of business on offer has not yet been reached. We had calculated that there would be no need for additional traincrews but we must obviously bow to the superior knowledge of FSR. Neither HITRANS nor TS has said what additional services could be run without more resources.