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


This is by way of being a Leap Newsletter - inserted once every four years, but without extra charge. Think of it as being part recompense for the short subscription "year" of 2006. It's a great deal shorter than usual, because it sets out to do one thing only - to give politicians and others a vision which is a sight bolder than any other they're likely to encounter as votes are solicited and policies trailed before us. Politicians famously don't look beyond the next election (although, as I write this, our Westminster representatives are deciding whether to spend £100 billion on a weapons system which they know - and we know - will sit in its box unused for 40 years. Obviously when it suits them, their time horizons can expand wondrously). This vision takes Scotland's railway up to the mid 2030s, in other words a generation of train kit ahead. FoFNL offers it, in a spirit of true humility, to any passing politician who might wish to copy it.

The good people at the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) have a splendid phrase which they use to accompany any good idea someone somewhere has put into practice: rip off and replicate. It sounds so much buzzier than "incorporate best practice wherever it may be found". I commend this vision to all who read it: may they rip it off and replicate it to their hearts' content. And for the betterment of our nation's railway.

The Editorial of the March issue of Rail Staff contains the following thought. "Outgoing premier Tony Blair talks of absolute commitment - this is absolute nonsense. Commitment means action, engineers at work, test trains on the track, contracts signed and progress reports delivered." Rail Staff will doubtless forgive my ripping it off and replicating it. I couldn't put it better. It must be the touchstone by which the actions of the new Scottish Government are measured.

Mike Lunan, Convener