The meeting of the Caithness Transport Forum on 13 August heard from Derek Glasgow of ScotRail about the progress of planning works to enhance the Far North Line. Two work-streams had reached GRIP-3, the final preliminary stage before decisions are made and funds allocated for physical (as distinct from design) work to start (GRIP-4). He expected GRIP-3 to be concluded by the end of 2020.
The two work-streams are motorising points (allowing passage at 40 mph instead of 15) and - one's heart lifted - the Lentran Loop. He estimated the range of funding required, depending on how much of the work was sanctioned by Transport Scotland, to be "between £50m and £200m". That buys a lot of improvement.
The FoFNL AGM, cancelled this year, was to have been held in Dingwall and plans are in hand to hold the 2021 AGM and Conference there in view of its proximity to Lentran. We hope to be able to organise a site visit if large-scale gatherings are permitted then.
Derek mentioned the Decarbonising policy (see Pandora) and reminded us that in the new improved world in which we now live it took "7 to 8 years" from deciding to buy a bit of new rolling stock to its actually carrying passengers. How different, how very different, from the situation in which Nigel Gresley found himself in 1935 with what became Silver Link*. It is good to have it on record that 158s won't last for ever. Some of us were beginning to think otherwise.
*The LNER's first A4 locomotive was pulling passengers only seven months after the Board decision to design and build.