View Full Version : Concern over north line service

26-Jan-16, 16:40
New figures released by Transport Minister Derek Mackay show that, over 12 months, rail services on the Far North Line were totally reliable only 70 per cent of the time. Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant asked a parliamentary question about how many of the 309 weekday services on the line, between 15th December 2014 and 12th December 2015, achieved 100 per cent reliability.
The answer was that 216 days had no full cancellations, part-cancellations, or incidents where a train failed to stop where it should have stopped. The figures highlight that nearly 30 per cent of the year was dogged by an unreliable service. Mrs Grant, who is spearheading the campaign for improvements to the Far North Line, has already highlighted figures from the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) that record a year on year fall in passenger numbers using the line since 2012/2013, with the latest figures showing another drop in passenger numbers. She is pressing the Transport Minister on what the Scottish Government is doing to try and reduce journey times on the Far North Line. She made the plea after it emerged that the trip from Wick to Inverness increased to almost 4 hours 30 minutes one year ago. “A reliable service is a service that passengers want to use,” said Mrs Grant. “A service which lets you down 30 per cent of the time just does not make the grade and it’s not difficult to see why some people in Caithness and Sutherland are voting with their feet and on many occasions rejecting the train in favour of the bus or the car. “Along with campaign group Friends of the Far North Line, I will continue to press for improvements.” The single track does not have enough passing loops and it is known that passengers at Beauly and Conon Bridge are fed up being stranded when late trains omit to stop, in order to make up time. Some people at Conon Bridge have reverted to going to Dingwall because the trains will stop there even if they are late. Last year, along with her Labour colleague MSP David Stewart, she welcomed the Far North Line’s mention in Network Rail's "Scotland route study draft" which is out for consultation until 10th March, considering Scotland-wide projects for 2019-2029.
Proposals include resignalling Inverness to Dingwall, a loop near Lentran and a Georgemas Chord direct to Thurso.
The campaign group Friends of the Far North Line is seeking funding from the proposed 300 million Inverness City Deal to support the reinstatement of the Lentran Loop to help ease congestion on the line and reduce journey times, a move being backed by Mrs Grant.
The loop would benefit Highlanders in not just the north but in Lochalsh in the west because the benefits would be shared by the Kyle Line as well.