FoFNL member Alan Findlay had this letter published in the Inverness Courier on 13 August
One can only sympathise and agree with the many complaints that I.M. Henderson of Nairn lists regarding a recent return trip on the Highland Main Line (Letters, August 7).
Current improvements to the line's trains and infrastructure are costing only a fraction of the billions of pounds being spent on dualling the A9. One can only hope that the refurbished InterCity 125s live up to the hype when they appear later than promised, hopefully in December. If so, I.M. Henderson's concerns about overcrowding, toilets and catering have some chance of being addressed.
However, the real concerns are regarding the frequency, speed and reliability of the service, and this depends on track and signalling as well as trains themselves. Currently the only significant investment has been in better passing facilities at Aviemore and Pitlochry; the great majority of the line will remain single-track as far south as Ladybank in Fife. This Fife section of the route is another problem, being a circuitous replacement for the old, direct, double-track route to Edinburgh via Kinross which was sacrificed to build the M90 in 1970.
Railways with significant single-track sections have severe limitations when it comes to reliability, coping with delays and providing the capacity needed for frequent, fast passenger services as well a big increase in freight.
Recently a "climate emergency" has been declared, and world record temperatures coupled with rapid Arctic sea-ice thinning and Antarctic ice-sheet melting indicate that this is not a moment too soon. Tackling the emergency will entail changes in energy production and use, in farming and what we eat, but also a drastic reduction in the transport emissions which damage climate - emissions which are actually increasing currently in Scotland.
It is to be hoped that our government's moves to deal with the emergency will include a major brake on big road spending, and diversion of this money to climate-friendly means of getting about, like electric rail and bus, cycling and walking. Perhaps the Climate Emergency will deliver a modern, attractive rail service to the Highlands.