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

Minutes of Committee Meeting on 22 March, Inverness

Present: Richard Ardern (RA), Mike Lunan (ML), Iain MacDonald (IM), John Melling (JM), Roger Piercy (acting secretary) (RP), Frank Roach (FR), Angus Stewart (ASt), Janice Stewart (JSt), Anne Sutherland (ASu). Apologies: Gavin Sinclair

Rail Future Scotland.

Our membership of this organisation was discussed and volunteers sought to attend various meetings to be held by Rail Future. A letter is to be sent to Rail Future referring to recent comments made in the Press by Ken Sutherland. ML and RA

Highland Rail Partnership. (HRP)

FR gave details of the proposed timetable changes, encouraging that some changes can be achieved without too much expense. It is likely that timetable changes for the Kyle Line will improve the service south of Dingwall. Conon Station has been built into the timetable proposals but it must not be allowed to cause an extension to overall journey times, so skip stopping will be applied to various stations. The Sunday service might be reviewed to benefit extra services for Tain - Inverness. FR thanked the committee and FoFNL members recently involved in highlighting a major shortcoming in the May 2007 timetable. There has been very little progress with the provision of a station at Dalcross.

The Fare structure continues to cause concern. The pricing structure for north fares is largely historical whereas services to the east are based on current business practice. HRP is working to get the Time Bar of 9.15 removed to enable cheaper fares for connecting services. No progress has been made towards 'free' train travel for Senior Citizens; the bus concession is due for appraisal in 3 years time. The major concern would be overcrowding. Rolling Stock; the 158 upgrade was discussed, a 1st class section is being included with better seats and power points. FR asked for guidance on how travellers should be charged for using 1st class and opinion was to charge a surcharge on the day. The first refurbished 158 will appear in April 2007. Hot food is now being served on the Main Line 170s and the first refurbished HST set has not yet appeared in Inverness. The Sleeper coaches are not due to be refurbished but are considered to be in good condition although the specification doesn't meet the demanding standards of Business travel. It has been agreed that a parcels van can be attached to the Sleeper service if required. ML thanked FR for his input to the meeting as he left for another appointment.

Minutes of the previous meeting of 9th December were agreed after the inclusion of a reference to the letter from Mr. Moore's solicitor demanding a written and published apology for words used calling the 2005 AGM.

Matters arising: JM questioned the introduction of a cut-off date for renewal of membership, he preferred that reminders be sent out.

Mr. Moore: RP had replied in January to the solicitor giving the proposed change of wording that would be published. On 14th March a further letter was received that didn't give a clear indication that the wording was acceptable and demanding that the apology be published in the press. Given that yet another letter from the Solicitor is in the hands of the Secretary a response will be made to both letters.

AGM 2007: Network Rail have still to nominate a speaker on their behalf. Alternatives were considered. The May newsletter will contain details of available accommodation and attractions for those staying over night.

Financial statement: JSt presented a copy of the final 'year' end accounts which cover the 9 months from April 2006 to December 2006 and the paperwork will be with the Auditors after the meeting. JSt also presented the current financial statement.

Membership statement: The total membership is 109 so far with renewals 50% higher than in March 2006. It was decided that we would be reactive towards the Community Councils. Election Special newsletter: RP presented a draft of the newsletter and production will start at the weekend to members and usual complimentaries with the compilation of an address list for all the extra complimentaries to prospective and current MSPs being compiled soon after. It was decided that FoFNL will not pursue any other form of canvassing at the hustings. Scotland RUS: The committee welcomed the inclusion of some of the Room for Growth findings that we had requested.

HITRANS RTS: The report will be presented to the Minister of Transport next week.

Future of HRP: HRP, a company limited by guarantee could become the rail arm of HITRANS.

Howard Brindley is retiring and will be replaced by Dave Duthie.

Freight RUS: This has appeared on the internet and our response will be featured in our May newsletter. Russells are still wanting to an open access terminal at the Inverness yard.

Date of next meeting: Three dates were on offer, Saturdays 19th, 26th May and 2nd June. It was later decided to fix on 26th May in the Inverness area, the precise location to be decided on.

A vote of thanks was offered to Richard and Eileen Ardern for their hospitality.