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


Sufficient space has now allowed me include reports of our last 2 meetings. I hope you find them informative.

Report of committee meeting held on 30th October 2002, Lairg

The meeting opened by attending to matters arising from the previous meeting such as making a donation towards the cost of signs indicating the link between the Orkney ferries and the rail service to Inverness. Then John Duncan, after observing the previous meeting, was co-opted as a committee member.

The committee then discussed the organisation of the AGM and confirmed the attendance of the two speakers. The treasurer reported a stable financial position and confirmed that the legacy is banked in a separate account.

Membership details were discussed and concern was expressed at the poor response to the latest renewal invitation. The meeting heard that 54% of members resided in the Inverness area and along the line. Twenty-five percent of the members lived outwith Scotland with the balance, 21%, living in Scotland. Further discussion took place on subscription rates and it was confirmed that the current rates would stand.

Frank Roach was asked to report on the Highland Rail Partnership, it being the first time that FoFNL had not been represented at a meeting of the Partnership. Frank reported that funding options are under way for the Invernet project and FoFNL will renew pleas for a late Friday train. We have been invited to boost sales of the new 'Iron Road to .. .. ' which is in preparation. It was reported that SRA funding was very tight but an economic assessment study is being undertaken for the Inverness/Aberdeen route. A scheme to improve disabled access on the northbound side of Helmsdale has stalled over a land dispute but plans are going ahead for access to the southbound platform of Tain.

It was agreed to formulate a Policy Document in view of the renewal of the franchise and Richard agreed to prepare a draft for discussion.

The freight situation on the line is very encouraging with an increase of general freight traffic to/from Thurso. An alternative planning proposal has been submitted by Highland Deephaven for their site at Evanton.

Discussion on Network Rail and ScotRail reflected the re-franchising situation. It was confirmed that Richard and John Melling would continue to represent the Friends at meetings of the Rail Passenger Council. Keith Tyler will soon be attending a meeting of Highland Railway Heritage and report to the next meeting.

Report of committee meeting held on 27th November 2002, Alness

Discussion started with the format of future AGMs, the feeling being that too much was being attempted for an afternoon meeting. Consideration will be given to holding the business meeting before lunch. The afternoon would have one speaker, followed by a general question and answer session.

Members were pleased with the publicity gained from the Press Release, especially the extra publicity gained by the reaction of the Evanton Community Council asking that Evanton be considered for a station.

Decisions about donations that would be made to help with the creation of disabled access to the southbound platform of Tain Station and to the publication of the next 'Iron Road' guide were deferred until the Treasurer could comment, however the finances were declared to be satisfactory.

The co-options of Richard Ardern and Stewart Campbell were confirmed.

To try and attract more new members a loose leaf form will be issued in the Newsletter for use by members to renew their membership or to pass onto others to encourage them to join. If possible extra publicity will be sought through the ScotRail free magazine 'Outlook'.

January's newsletter will have a 'bridge' theme. An appeal was issued to committee members to provide a portrait style photo of a modern train on a Far North bridge.

Keith Tyler reported that Highland Railway Heritage had cancelled the steam train excursions for 2002 to order that the organisation achieve a more business like footing.

The new planning proposals for the Highland Deephaven sidings at Evanton will be consulted by Stewart Campbell and Frank Spaven and a submission in favour of the proposals will be issued. The major change is the decision to build a new bridge under the A9 to allow the sidings to be built away from the village.

Committee members will supply the Secretary with their responses to Richard's draft policy document for discussion at the next committee meeting.