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

Commuters are asked to catch a later train

Muir of Ord rail commuters who are having difficulties with the 5.30pm Inverness - Wick/Thurso service met with Maureen Macmillan MSP and the local councillor, David Chisholm, this week to air their concerns. The local commuter service between Tain and Inverness has generally been a great success, however passengers told Mrs Macmillan and Mr Chisholm that one problem was the unreliability of the 5.30pm Inverness train, used by the commuters to return home, as this service is linked to the 1.40pm train from Edinburgh. If this train is late it results in a knock-on effect. When this has happened passengers have not been advised why the delay has occurred or told when the train will finally depart. Another difficulty is the overcrowding that occurs when only two coaches are operated on the service. It is not uncommon for the commuter passengers to be asked to get off and catch a later train to counter the overcrowding problem. The volume of passengers, which includes tourists and commuters, frequently requires a four-carriage train from Inverness. This decision is made once the train arrives from Edinburgh, based on passenger numbers. Passengers also feel the service frequency is unsatisfactory as there is no train north from Inverness between 11.27am and 5.30pm.

Mrs Macmillan said, "There are also complaints that the trains operated by ScotRail for commuter use are frequently not cleaned adequately and the overall environment at Muir of Ord railway station leaves much to be desired. "The shelter provided for use by passengers is too small, and vandalised. The car parking area is often covered in litter as is the railway line itself." She added, "The commuter service is popular and takes vehicles off our increasingly congested roads. However, if we are to encourage more car drivers to use the train the present deficiencies in the overall service must be addressed as a matter of urgency. I have written to both ScotRail and Network Rail seeking their commitment to improve the service and infrastructure."

Extracted from Ross-shire Journal 19.9.2003