Sadly, the tragic accident at Carmont in August shone a spotlight on the Scottish Government's short-sighted decision to leave the Highland Main Line, and large parts of the Inverness-Aberdeen route, in their Victorian single-track state. Dualling the A9 between Perth and Inverness is the equivalent to converting the railway to quadruple track. Richard Ardern wrote this letter:
The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands) 5 September 2020
The Transport Minister's statement that the railway line south from Aberdeen will not reopen until next month at the earliest (P&J, September 3) is not unexpected. It is a huge task.
The only possible diversionary route is a long one via Inverness on two predominantly single track lines which are currently operating at capacity. The Strategic Transport Projects Review identified these as priority improvements in 2008. Ministers set an initial target of 2017 but this has now slipped to 2030!
Redoubling of the line to Inverurie has been completed, but passing loops west of Keith and south of Pitlochry have not yet been started. It is good that some freight trains are getting through but this is at the expense of cancellation of Inverness to Elgin passenger trains and increased delays to others.
The 2008 plans would also make room for whisky and timber related trains to operate again to and from Moray. These missing loops need to be completed long before 2030.