A recent conversation set off a train of thought: how do others see FoFNL?
Are we 'railway enthusiasts'? I think not. Some members may be, but that is not why they signed up.
We have all joined FoFNL because we know that having a railway between Thurso/Wick and Inverness is essential and we all want it to be the best railway possible. A campaign group is vital for the Far North Line, to promote its virtues and fight for its improvement. FoFNL is able to reach into the community and represent its views on the subject.
Perhaps the hardest part is to get the message across to politicians who hold the future well-being of the line in their hands but who have many other pressing matters, mostly nearer their homes and voters, which fill their minds.
I enjoy thinking up new ways to illustrate the current difficulties and would like the said politicians to consider how they would feel if their daily (car) journey included a wait of up to 50 minutes at road works every day. This is the reality for those who travel the Far North Line due to the combination of the longest section of single-track railway in the UK and all the reliability and staffing problems which beset Abellio ScotRail on this line.
A recent article in The Herald raises the simple difference between the writer's excellent experience travelling on the newly reopened Borders Railway and his shock when making a journey from Oban to Glasgow.
Of the Borders Railway he says "Equipped with a wealth of information about the destinations on this 31-mile trip, both from the dedicated route website and an excellent guide pack you appreciate their history, culture and tourism offerings."
Then on to Oban, "you're looking forward to the spectacular journey...rampant lineside vegetation means much of that scenery is shrouded from view...the noisy carriages rattle along at a sedate speed...why does it take over three hours in this day and age to cover 101 miles by train?" "What is it with our public transport system and government's inability to view railways as powerful agents of economic growth and sustainability, and invest accordingly?"
He concludes, "The visible success of the new Borders Railway demonstrates yet again the consistent adage that investing in modern train services produces viable economic benefit. Do we really have to tolerate second-class services on Scotland's world-class scenic rail routes?"
Pretty sure that if he'd travelled on the Far North Line his comments would have been the same.