Inverness Airport Station finally opened on 2 February 2023 after a slight delay while construction work was completed. A plaque was unveiled by the Transport Minister, Jenny Gilruth MSP and represented the culmination of a project, the seeds of which were sown by Frank Roach of HITRANS 25 years ago.
In one sense the wait has been worthwhile since the original plan was for a single platform. The new station is a much more substantial facility, the two platforms being built on a newly-installed passing loop which gives some much needed extra flexibility and capacity to the largely single-track Inverness-Aberdeen railway. We see this loop as the next stage in transforming the line and hope we don't have to wait another 25 years to see the construction of another loop to break up the 18 miles of single track between Elgin and Keith. This would give enough capacity for an hourly passenger service between the cities as well as more freight, and would enable the line to handle emergency diversions, especially of freight trains.
The opportunity was taken, as described elsewhere in this issue, to provide signalling, points and a headshunt for the nearby West Fraser OSB (Oriented Strand Board) manufacturing site. This will enable that company to meet its modal shift aspirations, at least in terms of its Far North Line traffic from the new facility to be built at Altnabreac.
The station also serves the rapidly expanding new town of Tornagrain, which will eventually host 5000 new homes.
Initial reaction to the new station has been largely positive although the 10+ mins walk from the station to the airport has received plenty of comment. It is to be hoped that HIAL (Highland and Islands Airports Limited) will make the obvious decision to construct its proposed new terminal beside the railway station.
The £42m cost of the new station and the other infrastructure works was funded by Transport Scotland, with a contribution from HITRANS.
The opening event also saw the welcome involvement of children from Croy Primary School who planted a tree and buried a time capsule containing a teddy bear, a school tie, and letters to their future selves.