scotland (4K)
The Friends of the Far North Line
Cairdean Na Loine Tuath
the campaign group for rail north of Inverness - lobbying for improved services for the local user, tourist and freight operator

AGM Business Matters

The Treasurer, Ron Stevenson, presented the accounts for the financial year, March 2001 to March 2002 and informed the members that a legacy had been separately banked and will be used to mount a campaign against any threatened closure of the Far North Line.

The elections for Office Bearers resulted in John Melling being re-elected as Chairman and John Duncan, Rogart elected as Secretary. There were re-elections for Angus Stewart as Membership Secretary, and Ron Stevenson as Treasurer. Keith Tyler and Roger Piercy were elected as Committee members and Richard Ardern and Stewart Campbell were invited to become co-opted members of the committee. This still leaves a vacancy that would best be filled by someone living in Caithness if a volunteer could be found! An apology was received from our President Lord MacLennan of Rogart.

The meeting was then addressed by John Holwell, Rail Freight Manager for the W H Malcolm Group who spoke on the role of the Malcolm Group in rail freight and his visions for the future. The Malcolm Group decided to enter into the rail freight business in 1998 setting up a depot in Grangemouth and in that time have increased their business workload by the 10% of the business that is rail orientated. He felt that there was great potential for freight for the Far North and elsewhere. He gave credit to the Strategic Rail Authority's proactive approach in trying to dispel the 30 year old perception of the unreliability of rail freight operations.

It is essential that there must be reliable infrastructure since there is a distinct lack of diversionary paths for delayed freight trains and that operators had to do their utmost to have backup plans to ensure reliability to achieve punctuality targets of 90% 'right time arrival'. He felt that it was imperative that their must be co-operation between all those involved in the industry.

John Holwell's confidence in the transfer of vast tonnages from road to rail comes from his interpretation of the effect on road hauliers of the Working Time Directive which could cause an increase of 20% in their costs which can be offset by making more use of rail. The effect of blocked roads by accidents and the density of traffic should also influence the move from road to rail.

The next stage of the meeting should have been a Question and Answer session conducted by Alan Dougall, Operations Manager for ScotRail, Inverness. However the disruption to services between Inverness and Aberdeen caused by flooding meant that he had to put business considerations first! Frank Roach, more than ably, filled the gap in proceedings by bringing us up to date with all the projects that he is involved in as Highland Rail Development Manager for the Highland Rail Partnership.

Opportunity was taken to fill the spare time created to take other business and discussions ranged from the inconsistency of offering only free bus travel to the over 60's and not including rail travellers, to the future consideration by the committee to the Dornoch Crossing.

Financial Statement - year ended 31st March 2002

  2002 2001
  £ £
Computer - -
Current Account 4080 2821
Less Taxation 43 33
Balance at beginning of year 2788 2958
Surplus/(Deficit) 1249 (170)
Subscriptions 1209 620
Donations 644 478
ScotRail contribution - 125
Interest 52 60
Miscellaneous - 2
Sales of videos 331 -
  2236 1285
Highland Rail Partnership 100 100
Administration 176 79
Meeting Expenses 108 115
Newsletter 390 424
Membership Subscriptions 58 73
Video stock purchase 110 219
Miscellaneous 35 85
Tain Commuter publicity - 140
Depreciation - 208
  977 1443
  1259 (158)
Less: Tax Charge 10 12
Surplus/(Deficit) 1249 (170)