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 an article written by Roddy McLean in the Ross-shire Journal Friday 14th December 2001

What a disappointment it has been to learn of the tribulations affecting Beauly station due to be newly opened, but which has been left high and dry without a service. The community of Beauly surely deserve better especially after the expenditure of £250,000 of public money on the station.

Railtrack say it is not their fault. They were given to understand by Her Majesty's Railways Inspectorate that the station would be acceptable on safety grounds; despite the relative paucity of platform. The saga of Beauly Station is today a sorry spat between two bodies which might have been expected to serve the public better. The Inspectorate, for their part, say that there is a big difference between "no objection in principle and giving approval." Sure, but did we have to spend a ¼ million pounds in order to allow them to publicly draw that distinction?

At the time of writing, the end of the tale is still to be told but such incompetence on the part of the authorities must bring into question the possibility of reversing in any way Dr. Beeching's disastrous destruction of rural railway services in the early 1960s, and the application of further tranches of public money in order to open or reopen stations in small communities must now be in some doubt, unless Beauly can lead the way to a change in policy regarding platform length.

The rules are understandable, carriages are 23 metres long and the Beauly platform stretches to only 18 metres, but it surely must be possible to inform passengers on the train's public address system that only certain carriage doors will be opening at Beauly Station and that they should make their way to those doors. The locals would soon get to know which carriage was the one to sit in.

The only difficulty might be if Beauly's infamy as the most abbreviated platform in these islands attracts vast numbers of trainspotters and stationspotters who flock to see such an anomaly and who overload the designated Beauly carriage. CCTV cameras would have to be installed to preserve the station signs from unscrupulous collectors. Here, I am getting ahead of myself. But, then again, maybe I'm not. For what might be more novel for those who collect novelties than a sign from the station that never was...?

ScotRail seem to think that the service can be run safely and I am sure they have had technical and legal advice on the matter. Railtrack have done their bit and now say there is no more money or land available to extend the platform. What we see is what we'll get - that, or a skateboard park. It is now up to the Inspectorate and goodness knows what they'll finally decide, although they should be made to realise that a negative decision will have a serious and deleterious effect on the community in and around Beauly, and, by extension, to other rural communities that might seek to be included anew within ScotRail's services.