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New Group to focus on improving Far North Line

Published: 16 Dec 2016 14:00

Partnership approach key to its success

A Far North Line Review Group is being set up by the Scottish Government to co-ordinate activities and look at opportunities to improve performance on the route from Inverness to Wick and Thurso.

The new Group was announced by Cabinet Secretary Fergus Ewing at the Hitrans Annual Rail Stakeholder Conference in Inverness today (16 December).

The Cabinet Secretary also gave a key note speech which welcomed the work of local stakeholders and underlined the importance of partnership working in delivering future rail services for the area.

Mr Ewing said:

“The Scottish Government is determined to improve overall performance on our longest rural railway line and it is imperative we look at options to achieve that.

“It is essential we make the most of this important asset for passengers, for sustainable freight transport, and for the communities and businesses along the whole route.

“We are all grateful for the commitment and work carried out so far, but I want the personal assurance that collectively we are doing all we can to improve performance on this route. To ensure this, I have asked  the Director of Rail at Transport Scotland, to lead a Review Group to co-ordinate the many strands of activity being undertaken and facilitate the resolution of issues.

“The purpose of the Review Group is to identify, most immediately, timetable improvements and works, such as those at the level crossings at Lairg, Brora and Rovie, that can be implemented in the near future to improve performance. Secondly, the group will be charged with identifying opportunities, using existing funds, to improve passenger facilities, such as waiting rooms and shelters, during the years 2017 to 2019. Thirdly, I want the group to look at infrastructure options for our next investment period 2019 - 2024. Accordingly, the Review Group has a remit to address the present, the mid-term and provide strategic proposals for the future.

“I want all partners to be integral to the review. Our over-riding aim is to ensure that Far North Line passengers have a rail service that is responsive to the needs of the local community.“