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

Extract from "Stephenson Locomotive Society Journal"

The Highland railways, it seems, can now put up a still stronger case against being closed down. It is true that not everyone will approve of the reason; apparently it is because the output of whisky has gone up and it all requires transporting. No matter how it is sustained, however, the reprieve which the Highlanders gained for their lines a year ago is likely to be extended.

No doubt hard mathematics will have the last say. And yet it would be a pity - for romantics at least - if many of the old northern railway stories had the lines pulled out from under them. It is not so many years since two men came down the long, slow, interminably winding, continually stopping journey from Wick, and eventually were safely in sight of Inverness. "I always say," said one, "that that's the worst half of the journey over." "Is it far you're going?" "Hong Kong." And, on another northern line, there was the southern passenger who asked a shade pettishly if the train was often so much behind time. To which the porter, used to huge barriers of snow in winter, replied with traditional seriousness and courtesy that he had known it three weeks late.

The great improvement in the Highland roads will draw still more people and goods to them. For all that, if the journey has to be made by rail there is a special pleasure in many of the northern lines which swing far away from the roads in their search for passes through the hills. There are the moments of utter stillness and brightness at places which the traveller might otherwise never heard of - Altnabreac and Forsinard on the northern line, and Achnashellach and Achnasheen on the western. Nowadays it is hard to shake off an old-world and rather guilty feeling: one is, quite simply, a passenger. Yet nothing could spoil the sheer joy when the long northern journey was ending; Georgemas Junction was reached, and there came the clear Caithness shout from the platform - "Chorchmas Chunction, Change for Thurso."

January 1966