FoFNL committee (and ex-committee) members are in constant touch by email, sharing information about what's going on on the line. This particular exchange is worth repeating as it pretty much sums up our raison d'être.
Richard Ardern "Helmsdale delays and skipping Thurso" Friday 12th August:
I happen to have noticed that this week Thurso has been missed at least 6 times.
The 10:38 was 20 min late by Helmsdale [HMS] on
Friday 12 August.
Each day it was held at HMS for a further 50 minutes [waiting for a southbound train to traverse the overlong single-track section - THE KINBRACE LOOP MUST BE BUILT - Ed] and skipped Thurso arriving Wick after 15:40.
Personal needs breaks were taken and the 16:00 return service left at 16:30.
Thurso was again skipped.
I wonder if there are any regular Caithness passengers still prepared to stick with this train? Probably some have no other option?
The deterioration in timekeeping is a poor show.
Malcolm Wood "re:Helmsdale delays and skipping Thurso" Saturday 13th August:
I too had been noticing all this.
Of course, the last train of the day to Wick is nearly always subject to knock-on delays. However, it hardly ever seems to get a mention, so I'll mention it now.
You don't need to be Caithnessian to be wondering whether you can stick to using the Far North Line.
Despite the new ("more robust") timetable allowing 1 hour 33 minutes for it to travel from Inverness to Ardgay, the 18:28 seemingly never gets to Ardgay by 20:01. So far this week, for example, it has been 12L, 6L, 13L, 22L, and 9L in arriving at its terminus.
I was on it myself on Wednesday (the sole person to alight at Ardgay) and enjoyed a 14-minute cigarette break in the evening sunshine at Invergordon. It was a blessed relief, actually, as the combined effects of the air-conditioning wailing out a very unfocused C# and the coarsely percussive rattling of loose perspex panels somewhere in the luggage racks had been distracting me from reading an excellent account of the life of Erik Satie in the AOÛT edition of "Le Monde diplomatique". Ironically, the wee break had cheered me up and what's more, the trolley, bless it, had arrived at the front of the train and I then enjoyed a very passable cup of tea (despite the semi-skimmed sterilized milk) and a bit of gluten-free Dundee Slice (hand-baked at Loch Ness). (BRING BACK the moist Cherry Genoa!).
Oh I also had an altercation at the barriers after arriving at Inverness on Wednesday, (5L) at 17:06. There were three long queues to get out, none of them moving, so I went to the extra-wide one, which nobody was waiting to use. My ticket was rejected 3 times. Not one of the gates with the queues was opening. I realised that an official was standing at the other side, seemingly ignoring all this, so I hallooed him. He just looked. So I allowed him to witness my ticket just zapping straight through without the gates opening and the gentleman next to me did the same at his gate. So the official then came closer, as if he thought that by staring at it, it wouldn't DARE not work. Eventually he did something which opened the gate. He asked to see the ticket of the elderly gentleman in front of me and said "well, that didn't work because it's your receipt". He did acknowledge that mine was a ticket and SHOULD have worked.