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

Steam Today - Traffic Tomorrow

Return to Steam - the weekend of October 10 - 11 sees steam on the Far North Line for the first time for 30 years. FOFNL welcomes all visitors to the Line - we hope you enjoy the space of the north, and especially the climb from Invershin and the pull over the Flow Country to the County March. We thank Highland Railway Heritage of which we are a consituent partner for their initiative in this promotion. The outline timetable of how this train progresses north on Saturday 10th October and returns south on the Sunday is included in a special section of this newsletter. (For Internet readers who may be interested we have reproduced the operating timetable that was used)

In the north local tickets for steam shuttle runs between Wick and Thurso and vice versa on 10th and 11th October are on sale at £4 single (£2 for children) through the Tourist Information Centres at Thurso, Wick and Dornoch. Further south the steam train will run to and from Kyle of Lochalsh on Sunday 4th October, and from Inverness to Aviemore, Perth and Stirling on 17th October. Tickets can be obtained for these services through the Lairg Tourist Information Centre.

The Steam Festival provides an interlude from the real business of todays' railway which is the haulage of freight and the development of passenger services. Our rural railway is unique in that it has a focal point of economic acitivity at its northern extremity which is 250 miles and more from its markets. The work of John Holwell of EWS, and of our founder, Frank Roach, now North Highland Railway Development Officer, in bringing freight back to the Line some three years ago after an eight year gap is to be commended. The development of sidings at Invergordon and of proposals for loading of timber on the running lines at several places are welcome. Of yet greater benefit would be a decision to go ahead with a Road/Rail interchange freight hub in Caithness.

On the passenger side FOFNL is encouraged by the success of the Dingwall - Inverness commuter train. We continue to press for this to start at Tain and for a station at Beauly to be served by certain trains south of Dingwall. End to end timings continue to have our attention. The Government's Rural Transport initiative and its Transport White Paper suggest a more accomodating approach to integrated public transport provision. FOFNL proposals for an enhanced passenger service in Easter Ross are included in an article elsewhere in this newsletter.

The Annual General Meeting is at Tain on Saturday 7th November. It promises to be an interesting afternoon, please come along.

John Melling, Chairman