scotland (4K)
The Friends of the Far North Line
Cairdean Na Loine Tuath
the campaign group for rail north of Inverness - lobbying for improved services for the local user, tourist and freight operator

The Highland Railway Survey

By David St John Thomas 1994

Twenty years on, it is interesting to look back on this 40 page report commissioned by Highlands and Islands Enterprise in 1993. Some of David's suggestions have come to pass, such as the desirability of having "friends" organisations for the Highland routes! Others, such as a once a week tourist train on an Inverness-Perth-Aberdeen- Inverness circuit, have not.

Passenger censuses were taken on different days in August 1993. On Friday 6th August 2,515 passengers arrived at Inverness including 145 off the London Euston sleeper. 198 came off the Highland Chieftain daytime service from Kings Cross, 280 off the 10:32 arrival from Glasgow. Three other afternoon arrivals from Glasgow and Edinburgh each had over 200 passengers aboard.

On the Far North Line, the Thurso train arrival figures were:

09:52 114
15:13 223
19:35 65
23:55 15
Total 413

Another 384 came in on the four trains from Kyle of Lochalsh.

Departures saw 2,684 passengers leaving, 204 on the 07:55 to Kings Cross, 318 on the 10:15 to Edinburgh and an estimated 120 on the London Euston sleeper. Trains to Thurso had:

07:12 20
11:00 130
15:48 140
18:00 103
Total 393

Another 315 passengers left on the four trains to Kyle of Lochalsh.

On Monday 4 August a census was done for intermediate stations on the FNL. These showed 341 passengers joining and 283 leaving FNL trains at Inverness, Monday being a quieter day of the week than the Friday above. Totals at Thurso were 135 leaving and 129 joining and at Wick, 105 leaving and 89 joining.

Culrain just pipped Dingwall as the busiest of the intermediate stations with 46 joining trains and 41 leaving in both directions. Other figures were:

  Joining Leaving
Dingwall 25 58
Lairg 41 23
Tain 24 31
Helmsdale 27 27

13 passengers left trains at Dunrobin Castle but only 3 boarded there. On that particular day there were no passengers at all at Invershin, Kildonan, Altnabreac and Scotscalder. What a pity that the recent enforced closure of Carbisdale Castle as a youth hostel has now taken away much of the potential traffic at Culrain!

Richard Ardern