Work is expected to get under way very soon on the phase 1 enhancements announced last March and confirmed in August. The de-vegetation and ground investigation works contract has now been let and a Community Liaison Manager appointed by Network Rail to smooth the passage of these works.
The Scottish Government's Transport Scotland website gives details of the project as it stands at present.
Sadly, the promise in the GRIP 3 phase 1 enhancements summary to do further work to decide on a loop or double track sections between Inverness and Nairn is not going to be incorporated in to phase 1 as it seemed to be suggesting. It does make a lot of sense to have double track availability at each end (just as exists on the Highland Main Line) to avoid trains starting out on their journeys being delayed by late incoming services.
The financing of the whole scheme is not clear either. The first £170M will be spent on
The current financial ceiling of £240M is clearly not going to be adequate to make the line fit for purpose for the promised hourly service taking no more than 2 hours between Aberdeen and Inverness and the extra commuter trains at each end.
Capital for the new stations has to be found by Nestrans and HITRANS from appropriate sources. Rolling stock for the extra commuter trains has to be safeguarded for their intended introduction in 2018. HITRANS is currently reapplying for planning permission for Inverness Airport Dalcross station. More details can be found in the report for item 8 of their 10 April board meeting .