As readers will know, I took over the reins from Mike Lunan on 1st February. Mike's contribution to FoFNL has been huge and this is an opportunity to thank him for all his work and his dogged determination that the Lentran Loop "MUST BE BUILT"! We don't yet know for certain whether this is in the 'pipeline' but the indications are excellent.
As the new Convener I have naturally been thinking about FoFNL's exact aims. They are very simple: we campaign for improvements to services and infrastructure and constantly keep an eye out for other things which will help passengers and freight consignors; chief among these being the provision of timely and accurate information, particularly in times of disruption.
The process of initiating improvement works on the railway is, to say the least, tortuous. Transport Scotland is hoping that the new process, where projects are in a 'pipeline' rather than having to compete for entry into fixed five-year blocks of work, will help. We hope it does - we just want things done quickly!
On the subject of rail projects, I felt a surge of optimism on discovering that in 2010 the business case for the dualling of the A9 between Perth and Inverness included a monetary value of £429.8m, 23% of the total project cost, representing "Driver Frustration Benefit". "Passenger Frustration Benefit", to be derived from providing more passing loops or doubling single track railways where huge delays are caused, must also be very substantial and will, of course, contribute greatly to rail business cases.
You will notice that there is no Editorial page in this issue of Far North Express. I am continuing as FNE Editor and in future issues there may even be occasions of split personality!