West Highland Railway


This railway runs from Craigendoran (near Glasgow) to Fort William. The line had a branch to Banavie Pier.


Stations on the West Highland are noted for their 'Swiss Chalet' style station buildings and diminutive signal boxes. Original station buildings remain at Garelochhead, Upper Tyndrum, Bridge of Orchy, Rannoch, Tulloch, Spean Bridge and a closed station at Banavie Pier. Fort William's terminus had a building of a different style which has not survived. Most stations had island platforms, although some had two separate platforms; those at Rhu, Tulloch, Roy Bridge and Spean Bridge; and these had a different style of building, since only one side faced the platform. Stationmasters cottage and other railway cottages also had a standardised pattern.

Route described

The West Highland is a line apart. Despite fears over the years that it will lose its identity, it retains a certain something - probably a reflection of how different the West Highlands are from the rest of Scotland. Grander, sheerer mountains, sea and inland lochs, islands ...

Portions of line and locations

This line is divided into a number of portions.


  /  /1889West Highland Railway
Fort William's fort wall breached for railway building.
29/01/1889[West Highland Railway]
Charles Forman (of engineers Forman & McCall), James Bulloch (Formans chief engineer), J.E. Harrison (assistant engineer), Robert McAlpine (contractor), John Bett (factor of the Breadalbane Estates), Major Martin (factor of the Poltalloch estates) and N.B. MacKenzie (solicitor, local agent for the railway company) meet at a hotel in Spean Bridge to conduct a survey of the proposed route of the line over Rannoch Moor
30/01/1889[West Highland Railway]
The party are taken by coach from Spean Bridge to Inverlair Lodge. The party set out to walk from Inverlair Lodge to the north end of Loch Treig. The party are rowed from the north end of Loch Treig to the south end and stay overnight at Lord Abingers Craig-uaine-ach lodge.
31/01/1889[West Highland Railway]
The party set out to walk to Rannoch Lodge, the change their minds and decide to continue to Inveroran. The party split in poor weather conditions as it darkens, McAlpine decided to go on to Inveroran and Bulloch heads to Gorton cottage. Bulloch reaches Gorton. Forman, McKenzie, Martin, Harrison and Bett are taken to a nearby hut by shepherds from Gorton.
01/02/1889[West Highland Railway]
McAlpine reaches a cottage by Loch Tulla. Forman, McKenzie, Martin, Harrison and Bett are taken to Gorton to join Bulloch. The party are taken to Inveroran, via Loch Tulla to pick up McAlpine.
02/02/1889[West Highland Railway]
A blizzard covers Rannoch Moor and the party have to work their way through deep drifting to reach Tyndrum station on the [Callander and Oban Railway].
12/08/1889[West Highland Railway]
Act passed and West Highland Railway authorised.
23/10/1889West Highland Railway
First sod cut by Lord Abinger near Fort William.
20/07/1890[West Highland Railway]
Banavie Branch authorised.
  /07/1891[West Highland Railway]
Runs out of money, the contractor requests more money, and construction is abandoned.
  /08/1891[West Highland Railway]
In a court case held in Dumbarton the contractor is told that the line must be built for the amount specified in the contract.
14/10/1891[West Highland Railway]
Work re-starts, though the West Highland Railway agrees to pay an extra £10,000.
  /  /1893[West Highland Railway]
Financial crisis; Mr Renton, a director of the line, donated part of his personal fortune to get the line completed.
05/09/1893[West Highland Railway]
Last spike driven by Mr Renton on Rannoch Moor.
31/07/1894[West Highland Railway]
West Highland Railway ([Mallaig Extension Railway]) Act Passed.
03/08/1894[West Highland Railway]
Inspection by Board of Trade.
03/08/1894West Highland Railway
Opened from Craigendoran Junction to Fort William and Banavie Pier.
07/08/1894West Highland Railway
Public opening from Fort William to Craigendoran. Stations opened at Craigendoran Upper, Helensburgh Upper, Row, Garelochhead, Arrochar and Tarbet, Ardlui, Crianlarich, Tyndrum [WHR], Bridge of Orchy, Gortan (private), Rannoch, Corrour (private), Inverlair, Roy Bridge, Spean Bridge and Fort William [1st].
11/08/1894[West Highland Railway]
Ceremonial opening.
04/09/1894[West Highland Railway]
Helensburgh to Garelochhead train de-railed at Woodend Farm crossing by a stone placed on the line.
01/11/1894[West Highland Railway]
Refreshment baskets available at Arrochar and Tarbet.
01/01/1895[West Highland Railway]
Inverlair renamed Tulloch.
27/05/1895[West Highland Railway]
Glen Douglas siding opened.
01/06/1895[West Highland Railway]
Banavie Branch opened.
  /07/1895[West Highland Railway]
Refreshment baskets available at Crianlarich.
01/05/1896[West Highland Railway]
Whistlefield opened.
06/05/1896[West Highland Railway]
De-railment at Banavie Junction (now Mallaig Junction).
  /08/1896[West Highland Railway]
West Highland Railway (Ballachulish Extension Act) Passed, not built.
21/01/1897[West Highland Railway]
First sod of [Mallaig Extension Railway] cut at Corpach by Lady Margaret Cameron of Lochiel.
20/12/1897[West Highland Railway]
Connection to [Callander and Oban Railway] at Crianlarich opened..
22/07/1901West Highland Railway
Sleeper cars from Kings Cross to Fort William commence.
08/08/1906[West Highland Railway]
Accident at Pulpit Rock, by Loch Lomond.
  /  /1908[West Highland Railway]
[North British Railway]
West Highland Railway absorbed by North British Railway.
31/12/1908[North British Railway]
[West Highland Railway]
North British Railway takes over the West Highland Railway line from Craigendoran to Mallaig and the branch to Banavie.
06/12/1909[West Highland Railway]
Accident at Glen Douglas.
01/06/1924[West Highland Railway]
Row renamed Rhu.
01/05/1926[West Highland Railway]
Gortan renamed Gorton.
08/07/1929[West Highland Railway]
Restaurant car introduced.
  /10/1929[West Highland Railway]
Sleepers start to operate all year round.
27/01/1931[West Highland Railway]
De-railment in Rannoch Moor.
06/07/1931[West Highland Railway]
A loop added at Rhu.
01/08/1931West Highland Railway
Fersit station and branch opened, Loch Treig was to be converted into a reservoir to serve the smelter at Fort William.
07/08/1932[West Highland Railway]
Loch Treig diversion and tunnel opened. The line was re-aligned at a higher level as the Loch became a reservoir, part of the Lochaber Smelter scheme.
15/09/1934[West Highland Railway]
Corrour opened to the Public having been a private halt.
01/01/1935[West Highland Railway]
Fersit closed.
02/09/1939[West Highland Railway]
Banavie branch closed to passengers.
04/09/1939West Highland Railway
Banavie Pier to Fort William (Banavie Junction) closed to passengers.
02/10/1939[West Highland Railway]
Sleeper withdrawn.
27/04/1941[West Highland Railway]
Faslane Junction (Croy) opened with exchange sidings for a double track railway to Military Port #1 at Faslane.
21/12/1941[West Highland Railway]
New signal box and longer loop opened at Helensburgh Upper to help with Faslane traffic.
15/11/1942[West Highland Railway]
Camus-na-ha signal box opened.
26/03/1943[West Highland Railway]
Corpach Naval sidings opened.
05/04/1944[West Highland Railway]
Restaurant cars withdrawn.
26/08/1945[West Highland Railway]
Faslane platform opened, for moving prisoners of war to the halts at Inveruglas and Glenfalloch in connection with the building of the Loch Sloy Hydro Electric scheme.
29/10/1945[West Highland Railway]
Inveruglas platform, signal box and loop opened.
10/04/1946[West Highland Railway]
Glenfalloch platform opened.
  /06/1946[West Highland Railway]
Restaurant cars re-start.
23/05/1949[West Highland Railway]
Passenger services between Glasgow Queen Street, Crianlarich and Oban start.
06/08/1951West Highland Railway
Banavie Pier to Fort William (Banavie Junction (New)) closed to freight.
17/04/1954[West Highland Railway]
Collision at Bridge of Orchy.
09/01/1956[West Highland Railway]
Rhu closed.
24/09/1956[West Highland Railway]
Television train runs.
04/04/1960[West Highland Railway]
Rhu re-opened.
14/06/1964[West Highland Railway]
Craigendoran (West Highland, high level), Rhu, Shandon, Whistlefield and Glen Douglas Closed as the local service from Craigendoran to Arrochar and Tarbet is withdrawn.
21/07/1968[West Highland Railway]
Glasgow bound track at Helensburgh Upper lifted and signalbox closed.
13/06/1975West Highland Railway
New Fort William station opened, old station by Pier closed.
  /  /1980[West Highland Railway]
As the Pulp Mill at Corpach closes much traffic is lost.
  /  /1983[West Highland Railway]
Sunday service introduced.
  /  /1984[West Highland Railway]
Steam trains return to the line.
26/09/2001West Highland Railway
Fort William Oil Depot re-opened.


All Stations to Mallaig!: West Highland Line Since Nationalisation
Argyll and the Highlands Last Days of Steam

Argyll and the Highlands' Lost Railways

Ben Nevis and Fort William, The Mamores and The Grey Corries, Kinlochleven and Spean Bridge (OS Explorer Map)

History of the Railways of the Scottish Highlands: West Highland Railway v. 1

History of the Railways of the Scottish Highlands: West Highland Railway v. 1

Iron Road to the Isles: A Travellers and Tourist Guide to the West Highland Lines

Iron Roads to the Isles: A Travellers and Tourists Souvenir Guide to the West Highland Lines

Mountain Moor and Loch on the Route of the West Highland Railway

On West Highland Lines

Railway World Special: West Highland Lines

Rannan Rathad Iarainn nan Eilean =: The West Highland Line

Road To The Isles Dvd: Part One The West Highland Line Between Crianlarich to Fort William, From the Drivers Cab Of A Class 37, With The Caledonian Sleeper
The Mallaig Railway: The West Highland Extension 1897-1901 (RCAHMS Broadsheet)
The New Railway: The Earliest Years of the West Highland Line

The Story of the West Highland

The Story of the West Highland: The 1940s LNER Guide to the Line

The West Highland Railway

The West Highland Railway (Railways of the Scottish Highlands)

The West Highland Railway 120 Years

Trossachs and West Highlands: Exploring the Lost Railways (Local History Series)

Victorian Travel on the West Highland Line: By Mountain, Moor and Loch in 1894

Walks from the West Highland Railway (Cicerone Guide)

West Highland Line: Great Railway Journeys Through Time

West Highland Railway
West Highland Railway (History of the Railways of the Scottish Highlands v. 1): West Highland Railway v. 1
West Highland Railway: Plans, Poltics and People