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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

Far North Line Patronage Continues to Grow

The Office of Rail Regulation released the latest passenger usage statistics at the beginning of March. They can be found on

The figures cover each station in Great Britain for 2009/10 and the previous year's figures are given in brackets. They can be compared with the figures for 2006/7; 2007/8 and 2008/9 which we published in the May 2010 newsletter . ORR states:

Station usage data are an estimate of the number of passengers travelling to and from each station (entries and exits). They are based on ticket sales data from the national ticketing database and estimates of travel using zonal/multi-modal tickets sold by Strathclyde Partnership for Transport and English Integrated Transport Authorities (formerly PTEs). There are limitations to the dataset and these estimates should be treated with caution.

Thus it is not an exact science (considering the vast range of ticketing variety such as BritRail passes) but can be treated as an indication of trends and a fair indication of absolute volumes.

Altnabreac, the quietest station on the FNL, is recorded as having had 69 full fare entrances and 9 people on reduced fares and the same number of exits. So we didn't lose anybody on the moors, in theory at least! The total number of passengers deemed to have used the station in 2009/10 was therefore 156. It was deemed to be the eighth quietest in Great Britain having declined by 56 passengers on the previous year. RAIL Magazine even managed to map Sugar Loaf (the fifth quietest) on the wrong line!

In contrast, Dingwall recorded an increase of 8,000 to more than 80,000 and Inverness is credited with use by 1,070, 924 passengers. Going further up the scale, Aberdeen had 2,657,014 passengers, Edinburgh and Glasgow Queen Street over 19 million passengers each and Glasgow Central is the 10th busiest with 23.8 million passengers. Eight of the big London stations are in the top ten.

Wick (WCK) 24,454 (21,708)
Thurso (THS) 47,792 (43,450)
Georgemas (GGJ) 1,482 (1,500)
Scotscalder (SCT) 184 (256)
Altnabreac (ABC) 156 (212)
Forsinard (FRS) 1,496 (1,836)
Kinbrace (KBC) 410 (792)
Kildonan (KIL) 204 (174)
Helmsdale (HMS) 5,680 (5,646)
Brora (BRA) 5,614 (4,660)
Dunrobin (DNO) 488 (572)
Golspie (GOL) 8,486 (9,154)
Rogart (ROG) 1,844 (1,538)
Lairg (LRG) 5,542 (5,280)
Invershin (INH) 282 (220)
Culrain (CUA) 1,722 (1,886)
Ardgay (ARD) 7,388 (6,516)
Tain (TAI) 24,340 (23,922)
Fearn (FRN) 6,790 (7,724)
Invergordon (IGD) 20,648 (19,974)
Alness (ASS) 14,306 (13,722)
Dingwall (DIN) 80,324 (72,086)
Muir of Ord (MOO) 57,396 (51,104)
Beauly (BEL) 51,094 (52,422)

Snapshot of passenger loading on 1715 Inverness-Ardgay on 28/02/11

Inverness 139
Beauly -40
Muir of Ord -30 +5
Dingwall -18 +15
Alness -21 +2
Invergordon -12 +1
Fearn -9
Tain -28
Ardgay -4
Frank Roach