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

Kessock Chaos Partially Averted

Does anyone actually make anything in Britain these days? On 8 June the Ross-shire Journal started an item thus: "Employers are being urged to allow staff to work from home to minimise a week of traffic chaos as a result of "emergency" repairs to the Kessock Bridge." Had the then East of Scotland Water company arranged to deliver samples of potable and waste water to your Editor's home during similar repairs to the Forth Road Bridge that separated him from his workplace, there is little that he could have done to analyse them. There must have been a considerable number of other workers whose absence from the laboratory or factory would have slowed if not stopped the production line. As it happens there was an alternative 100-year-old bridge alongside the road bridge that enabled his arrival at the workplace at his usual 10 past 8 time.

Of course, there is a rather more frequent train service between Fife and Edinburgh than across the Beauly Firth, but nevertheless - and to the confounding of some local newspaper correspondents - ScotRail did provide additional capacity on two of its Far North Line trains. Between Monday 20 and Friday 24 June, the principal work period, the 06:34 Lairg to Inverness and the 17:15 Inverness to Ardgay were lengthened with two extra carriages.

The woman who commuted to Inverness that week from Muir of Ord and found that a 10-day ticket cost her just £13 - "a considerable saving" - was delighted. However, those many who replaced their cars with the train on the Monday drifted back to the road as the week wore on when their colleagues who had continued to drive told them that the fewer vehicles crossing the bridge had meant the predicted 75-minute delays had not materialised. Scotland Transerv, the Balfour Beatty Mouchel Joint Venture operating company responsible for the management and maintenance of the trunk road network in north-west Scotland, was quite unconcerned that at 08:10 on the Wednesday cars were only being delayed by 28 minutes, which might imply that while everyone claims to suffer late trains or late buses no driver suffers from a late car.