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

Conon Bridge Station Could Be Opened Soon

On 30 March 2012 HITRANS (the Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership) issued the following optimistic press release:

A new low-cost railway station at Conon Bridge, between Beauly and Muir of Ord on the Far North Line, could be opened soon following the signing of an agreement between HITRANS and Network Rail. The agreement enables HITRANS to invest £100,000 in a detailed station design delivered by Network Rail for a station platform that can accommodate four railcars, the maximum length of ScotRail trains on the Far North Line. This work will take the project to ready-to-go-to-tender stage.

The announcement was made at the HITRANS Rail Seminar, held in Inverness on the afternoon of Friday 30 March 2012, as delegates celebrated the 10th anniversary of the opening of Beauly station with a birthday cake.

Dave Duthie, HITRANS Director, said: "This year is the 10th anniversary of the opening of Beauly, a station that has exceeded all expectations and become a vital and important part of that community's transport links to the Highland capital. Conon is the son of Beauly and re-opening a station there will provide quick, easy and cost-effective access into the Highland capital for work, education and leisure. HITRANS anticipates Conon being as successful as Beauly. With the support of the rail industry and the local community this much needed railway station can be constructed and opened quickly as planning consent is already in place. We will be investigating all potential sources of funding for the capital works."

Capacity already exists for the new station as the current Far North Line timetable can accommodate trains stopping at Conon with no increase in journey times for existing services.

Beauly station handles over 50,000 passengers per annum, far exceeding initial expectations, with usage growing 88% in the last six years. Conon station is forecast to handle 36,000 passengers per annum, although this is expected to be higher once services start operating and users change their travelling habits towards rail.

The following week's Ross-shire Journal developed the item - very prominently on its front page - and linked the re-opening of Conon with house-building taking place in the village, where Tulloch Homes have recently commenced their Conon Braes residential development of 209 properties. In addition to the success of the re-opened Beauly station, Muir of Ord is put forward to demonstrate the interdependence of housing developments and the presence of a railway station for convenient commuting into Inverness.

Update - see this page for photos of progress made in 2012.