An interesting story occurred on Thursday 16th April concerning the 16:00 Wick to Inverness train.
The train left Wick 15 mins late and therefore omitted the trip to Thurso. It still ran late, stopping more than 15 mins behind schedule at Helmsdale. ScotRail's mobile phone app gave the reason as "signalling" (either a fault or a problem, the person who saw this can't recall which) meanwhile on the train the passengers were being given announcements about preceding freight trains. It is known that a nuclear flask train was running ahead of the 16:00 and left Ardgay further down the line in the 16:00's path (allocated time slot).
Meanwhile the train which would have formed the 19:28 Ardgay-Inverness arrived in Ardgay from Inverness about a minute late at 18:40.
The 16:00 Wick-Inverness train left Ardgay at 19:28, passing the stock which had terminated at Ardgay at 18:40 in Ardgay.
Shortly after leaving Ardgay the train stopped and travelled back north to the station. The empty stock from the Inverness-Ardgay service that had arrived earlier was attached to the rear of the 16:00 and locked out of use. It then left Ardgay again and stopped at the extra stations the 19:28 Ardgay-Inverness would have done, thereby metamorphosing into the 19:28 and causing the 16:00 train to be announced as cancelled and the passengers on board that service being offered a refund.
Meanwhile the ScotRail JourneyCheck website explained that the 16:00 Wick-Inverness was "cancelled between Ardgay and Tain due to a problem with safety equipment". It is interesting, although perhaps not entirely surprising, that three different explanations were being given out that day!
This story also gives an insight into how FoFNL monitors events on the line informally. The information here is the result of combining the observations of a passenger on the 16:00, a local resident and a member who regularly looks at the ScotRail website to see how things are going.