FNL Train Loadings
Loadings have been higher than ever on FNL trains this summer. On Tuesday 9 August, the 17:15 Inverness to Ardgay commuter service left with 150 passengers packed into the 133-seat train. On Friday 12 August the 08:12 Wick to Inverness arrived with 150 passengers and a full complement of 4 bikes. It is not recorded whether, being the Glorious Twelfth, there was any grousing from the passengers.
On Saturday 13 August the 06:20 from Wick arrived one and a quarter minutes late at the far end of Platform 6. Three bicycles, four buggies and a twin pram left the train accompanied by 211 passengers. Two hundred of these were not obviously Rangers supporters since they were not in blue strips, carrying cans of Tennant's or looking forward to the 12:45 kick-off. Because of the curve of the platform it could not be seen whether the train had been strengthened to four cars but, because Inverness was short of stock that week owing to failures and with two units in the works, it is thought unlikely, in which case conditions on the train must have been pretty grim.
The 08:12 from Wick arrived with 151 passengers, three bikes and four buggies, at least the fourth overcrowded Far North train to have been seen at Inverness that week with more than 150 passengers aboard.
The 12:16 Inverness to Dingwall was hiding at the far end of Platform 6, where passengers could not see beyond the first set, which was locked out of use. The platform-end screen did not say, "FRONT TRAIN". Three groups of people, 18 in total, were confused but eventually went far enough to realise that there was another set. Two lads with a bike turned back and hung around the barrier until they were advised to go further up the platform. Whose responsibility is it to get the screens correct? Is it the Inverness Signalling Centre, or the First ScotRail Controller above the Bookstall, or someone in Glasgow? The station screens were advertising "NO SEAT RESERVATIONS" for the 13:34 to Kyle and 13:59 to Wick. Why was this on one of the busiest days of the year when they are most needed? They were also advertising "NO FIRST CLASS" on the 12:47 to Edinburgh, which turned out to be Strathclyde unit 170 478.
While it is good to see the railway being used beyond full capacity, full capacity should at least be available for the busiest days of the summer.