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Flooding has sparked the closure of the Far North Line and the cancellation of railway services on the route.
(Permalink) Ardgay Far North Line Flooding

Caithness is playing a key role in a £195k project which hopes to show that moving timber by rail is a viable and greener alternative to using roads.

(Permalink) Dalcross Far North Line Georgemas Junction Hitrans Inverness Network Rail Norbord Scottish Forestry Timber Transport Scotland Victa Railfreight

Rail passengers on the Far North Line face delays of up to 35 minutes today, ScotRail has warned.
(Permalink) Far North Line

A call has gone out for local people to get involved in a community rail partnership to help the far north economy recover from the pandemic.
(Permalink) Far North Line


Wick: First ScotRail 158722, snug in its little house, waits to depart with the first afternoon train to Inverness.
Colin McDonald 24/05/2013


Thurso: 158720 just arrived at Thurso station from Inverness at 10.58 (this photo was taken three minutes later) on 17th June 2019. Trains no longer pull up under the train shed - but they still do so at Wick.
David Bosher 17/06/2019

Hundreds of lorry loads of timber could be removed from the A9 in Ross-shire after almost £200,000 was allocated to a rail freight trial by Victa Railfreight.
(Permalink) Dalcross Far North Line Georgemas Junction Hitrans Inverness Network Rail Norbord Scottish Forestry Timber Transport Scotland Victa Railfreight

Commitment to decarbonise passenger rail services by 2035. Plans to decarbonise Scotland's rail passenger services by 2035 have been launched by Transport Secretary Michael Matheson today.



Railscot note - PDF page 8 shows electrification of lines by 2035:

- Glasgow - Aberdeen - Inverurie

- All lines in Fife including Levenmouth

- Highland Main Line

- Borders line

- Glasgow - Barrhead - Dumfries - Carlisle

- East Kilbride

- Kilmarnock - Ayr

- Anniesland - Maryhill

Partial electrification or alternative technology:

- Ayr- Girvan

- Inverurie - Inverness - Tain

Battery or alternative technology:

- West Highland Lines

- Far North Line

- Kyle Line

- Girvan - Stranraer
(Permalink) Aberdeen Barrhead Battery train Borders line Dumfries East Kilbride Electrification Far North Line Fife Girvan Highland Main Line Inverurie Kilmarnock Kyle Line Levenmouth Maryhill Stranraer Tain West Highland Lines


Scotland: Transport Scotland - Rail Services Decarbonisation Action Plan for 2035. Lines shown in red are to be electrified. Those in yellow to be alternative traction, possibly prior to electrification. Those in green to be alternative traction with a permanent solution such as battery use.
Transport Scotland 28/07/2020

A new group is being formed in an ambitious bid to reinvigorate the Far North rail line in Caithness and Sutherland, it has emerged.

It is hoped the Far North Line Community Rail Partnership will encourage more visitors to the area and help the North Highlands recover economically from the coronavirus pandemic.
(Permalink) Covid-19 Far North Line

A close ally of Jeremy Corbyn who is helping to lead Labour general election campaign has been ridiculed after suggesting he likes to travel by train to the Northern Isles.
(Permalink) Far North Line Kyle Line

The operator of Scotland's railway network has reiterated its commitment to the Far North Line in the Highlands.
ScotRail Alliance, which involves Abellio ScotRail and Network Rail, has been criticised for the quality of services on the line.
A railways expert and MSPs have concerns about the long-term future of the line that links Inverness to stations in Sutherland and Caithness.
But ScotRail Alliance said it was investing in the line.
(Permalink) Abellio Far North Line ScotRail

The “shambolic” performance of Scotland’s most northerly railway could lead to its eventual closure, a book published today claims. Passenger numbers are falling on the route between Inverness, Wick and Thurso, which has been plagued by chronic unreliability and frequent cancellations. In Highland Survivor: the story of the Far North Line, rail consultant David Spaven argues for urgent action to reverse its fortunes. The 168-mile route was the biggest reprieve among those earmarked for closure by the Beeching report 50 years ago. However, unlike most Scottish lines which have enjoyed booming traffic, Britain’s longest rural route is declining and many journeys are far quicker by road.
(Permalink) Far North Line


Loth: North of Brora, The Far North Line runs along the east coast until it reaches Helmsdale then turns inland to follow the Strath of Kildonan. Black 5 No. 44871 is pictured near Loth, between Brora and Helmsdale, with The Great Britain IX.
John Gray 01/05/2016


Thurso: About to board the 1307 service to Inverness at Thurso on 1 September 2015.
Brian Smith 01/09/2015


Georgemas Junction: No rural idyll these days. Georgemas Junction now features a mighty 110-tonne gantry crane for road-rail transfer of contaminated materials from the decommissioned Dounreay nuclear site. As seen here on 26th August 2015, the redundant former up platform has been lost to the new facility.
David Spaven 26/08/2015

The Far North Line is one of the great rail survivors, but action is needed to ensure it stays on the transport map, says David Spaven Britain’s longest rural railway – the 168-mile Far North Line from Inverness to Wick and Thurso – is one of the country’s most remarkable rail survivors.
(Permalink) Far North Line

RAIL passengers are often left standing at Beauly and Conon Bridge stations as late-running trains fail to stop in a bid to regain lost time, according to a transport group.

Rail officials have now agreed to visit the region later this year after a catalogue of problems on the rail line north of Inverness were highlighted. They include trains being delayed by more than an hour or services cancelled at short notice.

Concerns at the continuing poor performance of services on the Far North Line between Inverness and Wick/Thurso have been voiced by board members of Hitrans, the transport partnership for the Highlands and Islands.
(Permalink) Far North Line


Beauly: Supervision of passengers leaving via the designated door of an Inverness - Wick service during the stop at the Beauly mini-platform in November 2003.
John Furnevel 23/11/2003


Conon Bridge: Platform scene at Conon Bridge station on 8 February 2013, first day of the new train services.
John Yellowlees 08/02/2013

ONE of the most isolated railway station buildings in Britain has gone on sale, offering potential buyers a wonderful secret retreat. The three-bedroom Station Cottage at Altnabreac is a family home but it was originally the railway station and first opened in 1874. It is still used as a request stop on the far north line. [From Richard Buckby]
(Permalink) Far North Line


Altnabreac: Altnabreac in its splendid isolation. Looking south towards Forsinard in 1994. The water tank still exists behind the photographer.
Ewan Crawford //1994


Altnabreac: Two trains cross at Altnabreac in November 1963 before the loop was taken out - although the water column survived until the early 1970s. [Actually the mid 1990s. Ed.] The stations's 'walk-in catchment' comprised the building to the right and the hunting/shooting/fishing Lochdhu Inn, two miles south by Land Rover track. This scene is now surrounded by forestry plantations.
Frank Spaven Collection (Courtesy David Spaven) /11/1963


Altnabreac: A water column still stands defiantly at Altnabreac in the summer of 1971, long after the end of steam.
David Spaven //1971

GLASS-ROOFED trains to give tourists a better view of Scotlands scenery and wildlife have been proposed by the BBCs Great British Railway Journeys presenter Michael Portillo. The former Conservative transport minister said coaches with windows extending to the roof should run on the Far North Line, from Inverness to Wick and Thurso.
The call came as the Scottish Government revealed it had received very exciting proposals for planned scenic trains among bids for the ScotRail franchise from next year.
(Permalink) Far North Line ScotRail


Kyle of Lochalsh: Nearing journey's end on the Kyle line, a train passing Garnmore on 25 April 2013.
Ewan Crawford 25/04/2013


Bridge of Orchy: Ben Dorain dwarfs a Black 5, 5305, on the ascent to the horseshoe curve.
John Robin /09/1987


Loch Treig: On a glorious day in bright sunshine, K4 61994 The Great Marquess and 37676 Loch Rannoch haul The Cathedrals Explorer along the side of Loch Treig south of Tulloch on 8 May. Stob Coire Sgriodain (979 Metres) is the peak in the background.
John Gray 08/05/2011

The Ayr to Stranraer line is the best performing rural railway line in Scotland.
And that's official following the release of figures by the Office of Rail Regulation that show passenger numbers on the Stranraer line increased dramatically in 2012/13 and are nearly up to the level reached when ferry services operated out of the town.
The number of passenger journeys is up a staggering 14.4% and the 60-mile line to Stranraer has outperformed the West Highland Line to Fort William, the West Highand line extension to Mallaig, the Kyle of Lochalsh line, the Oban line and the Far North line to Wick and Thurso. Indeed all the Highland lines saw a reduction in passenger numbers last year except the Far North line which returned growth figures of 0.6%.
(Permalink) Far North Line Kyle Line Stranraer West Highland Lines


Stranraer: The 12.36 service to Glasgow Central waits to leave Stranraer Harbour on 24 May 2012.
Colin Miller 24/05/2012


Maybole: A southbound train pulls away from a colourful Maybole station and heads for Girvan on the last day of May 2007.
John Furnevel 31/05/2007


Girvan: The immaculate interior of the waiting room at Girvan, Scotland's only art deco station, seen on 3 June. Even the ceiling is glossy. The more modern seating is unfortunately not sympathetic, though probably more comfortable than the wooden benches it no doubt replaced.
David Panton 03/06/2010

Design work is expected to start soon on a new railway station for Conon Bridge in Ross-shire.

Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership (Hitrans) and Network Rail have signed a deal on the project.

Hitrans, which will provide 100,000 towards the work, said it should mean the new platform could open soon on the Far North Line.

A station had served Conon Bridge from 1862 until 1960 when it closed to passenger services.

Goods services were withdrawn from the station in 1965.
(Permalink) Far North Line Network Rail


Conon Bridge: Approaching Conon Bridge from Dingwall.
Ewan Crawford //


Conon Bridge Viaduct: The early morning train for Inverness off the Far North Line crossing the river at Conon Bridge on 23 November 2003 on the way to its next stop at Muir of Ord.
John Furnevel 23/11/2003


Conon: The overgrown platform at Conon station (closed June 1960) photographed on 5 February 2011. A new station (to be named Conon Bridge) is proposed for the village, hopefully before 2012, when there are major road works planned for the Kessock Bridge. These are expected to result in significant delays to road traffic, particularly during in the morning and evening peaks. Protracted discussions regarding the cost (£1.6m for a basic platform and shelter) and 'who pays?' have delayed the project.
John Gray 05/02/2011

THE campaign for a Dornoch rail crossing has received a massive boost following a survey which was conducted by a local pressure group.

The Dornoch Rail Link Action Group surveyed more than 500 rail users over the past three months and is delighted with the findings.

They show overwhelming support for the crossing which would reduce journey times on the Far North line by 45 minutes. The trip between Wick and Inverness currently takes four hours and 26 minutes.

(Permalink) Dornoch Rail Crossing Far North Line


The Mound: A southbound 158 with the afternoon service from the far north turns inland after skirting the shore of Loch Fleet on 29 August 2007. The train is approaching the former junction for Dornoch at The Mound (closed 1960).
John Furnevel 29/08/2007


Meikle Ferry: A train from the far north passing the long closed station at Meikle Ferry on 25 August 2007. The station was open for less than 5 years, closing on 1 January 1869, having been originally planned when consideration was being given to taking a direct route north from here across the Dornoch Firth.
John Furnevel 25/08/2007


The Mound: H.R. 0.4.4T 55051 with a train from Dornoch about to leave the causeway before crossing the bridge over Loch Fleet narrows to reach The Mound Junction.
G H Robin collection by courtesy of the Mitchell Library, Glasgow 03/07/1950

The future of 22 rural train stations used by only a handful of passengers every week is under threat after Network Rail said the facilities were 'driving up' the cost of running Scotland's railway.

An industry report highlighted the 'low footfall' stations, the majority of which are in the Highlands, including six which attract an average of one passenger for every 10 trains - or even fewer - that pass through them.

The findings will heap pressure on the Scottish Government to reconsider their future when setting out its funding priorities next summer for the period between 2015 and 2019.

Network Rail, which owns and operates the UK's track and signals, said it was not always apparent the stations were providing a 'valuable social link' for the high level of subsidy they required.

Stations with low footfall have a high ratio of cost per passenger. This drives up the costs of operating trains on these lines

A spokesman for the company said: 'Stations with low footfall have a high ratio of cost per passenger use. These stations drive up the costs of operating trains on these lines.

'It is Network Rail's role to highlight these cost drivers to the government and wider industry for consideration.'

The report, the Initial Investment Plan for Scotland, called for cost-saving to lower the '700m annual taxpayer support for running the rail network north of the border.

Of the 22 low-footfall stations, five are on the West Highland Line to Oban and Mallaig, six on the Far North Line connecting Inverness to Wick and Thurso and six on the line from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh.

But they also include a number of stations on busier routes such as Breich on the Glasgow Central to Edinburgh line and Springfield in Fife. Barry Links in Angus, which has only one train in each direction every day, had the lowest footfall of any Scottish station, with just 90 passengers a year, while its neighbouring station, Golf Street, had 190.

Many of the stations in the Highlands are request stops at which trains do not stop unless signalled by a passenger on board a train or at a platform.

But the low number of passengers meant the ticket revenue was not even enough to pay for the fuel used by stopping a train and then accelerating out of the station, the IIP report found.

The report also highlighted the Girvan to Stranraer line, which it found has only 11 passengers per train, a figure it said was likely to diminish with the closure of Stranraer ferry terminal.

By contrast, Edinburgh to Glasgow provides more than one-quarter of ScotRail's revenue and journeys. One-third of the Strathclyde population used a train in the past month, compared with only 11% in the Highlands and North-east, where people are far more dependent on the car.

A spokesman for Transport Scotland, which funds the Scottish rail network and is responsible for the ScotRail franchise, would only say that delivering a 'lower cost railway' would be central when it came to specifying funding priorities.

Previous attempts to close low-use stations have failed after protests by local communities who claimed they provided an important social link. A similar IIP report produced in 2006 called for a number of stations to be closed but the recommendations were rejected by the then Scottish Executive.

However, industry analysts said there was now greater pressure on the UK and Scottish governments to achieve cost savings given the squeeze on public finances and recent findings that Britain's railway costs around 30% more to run than similar European railways.

ScotRail, which operates 95% of passenger trains in Scotland, said low-use stations went back to the days of British Rail and were inherited when it was awarded the franchise in 2004.

(Permalink) Far North Line Kyle Line ScotRail Stranraer West Highland Lines

People living in the far north are being asked if they would be more inclined to travel by rail if journey times could be reduced by 45 minutes.
Travel by train from Wick and Thurso to Inverness takes about four hours

(Permalink) Dornoch Rail Crossing Far North Line


Thurso: Preparing to leave Thurso in 1972.
Jim Peebles //1972


Wick: D5123 ready to leave Wick for Inverness in 1968.
Bruce McCartney //1968


Meikle Ferry: A train from the far north passing the long closed station at Meikle Ferry on 25 August 2007. The station was open for less than 5 years, closing on 1 January 1869, having been originally planned when consideration was being given to taking a direct route north from here across the Dornoch Firth.
John Furnevel 25/08/2007

A subsidiary of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) has outlined potential improvements to the Far North Line in the Highlands. Direct Rail Services (DRS) has suggested creating a new railhead, or freight terminus, in Caithness. [From Richard Buckby]

(Permalink) Far North Line


Inverkeithing: 66108 passing through Inverkeithing on 10 August with pipe train for Georgemas Junction.
Bill Roberton 10/08/2010


Ladybank: A freight crosses to the up line at the south end of Ladybank station on 20 September 2007, having just come off the Perth line with a Georgemas Junction - Hartlepool pipes return working.
John Furnevel 20/9/2007


Query 6946: Nice day... where? [Added 27 April 2015]
Notes and Queries //

Network Rail engineers are currently working to replace track and signalling equipment on the line around Dalchalm to repair damage caused by a passing freight train.


(Permalink) Far North Line Network Rail


Tain: Tain. The main building, redundant and boarded up. 16/10/06
John Gray 16/10/2006


Helmsdale: A barrowload of parcels and mail comes off a northbound train at Helmsdale in November 1963.
Frank Spaven Collection (Courtesy David Spaven) /11/1963


Brora: Looking south at Brora in August 1989 as a sprinter passes a northbound 37 hauled service.
John McIntyre 15/08/1989

Photographs taken by rail staff have revealed the depths of snow that have affected the Far North Rail Line and disrupted services to Wick.


(Permalink) Far North Line


Dunrobin Castle: Looking north from Dunrobin in March 2006. Alas the carriage shed has gone.
Ewan Crawford 13/03/2006


Kinbrace: The long wait. View south at Kinbrace in the snow. Christmas 1992.
Ian Dinmore //1992

A rail users' group is calling for more trains on the far north line to help ease congestion on the A9 and in Inverness.
(Permalink) Far North Line


Kildonan: Southbound 158 service stops at Kildonan in 2006.
Bill Roberton //2006


The Mound: Inverness train speeds past The Mound station in July 2004 seen from the goods loading bank at the south end. The former Dornoch branch platform is on the right.
Ewan Crawford /07/2004


Golspie: Rush hour at Golspie on 30 August 2007 as the 0923 to the far north pulls into the platform. The group had arrived at the station on a tour bus (just visible on the left) 10 minutes earlier.
John Furnevel 30/08/2007

SIGNIFICANT investment is required on the Caithness to Inverness railway line to attract more passengers and shorten journey times, but improvements are being made to the service.

That was the message delivered by Mary Dickson, managing director of First ScotRail, when she addressed the annual general meeting of Friends of the Far North Line in Thurso at the weekend.
(Permalink) Far North Line ScotRail


Thurso: Thurso 05 Oct 2017.
John Yellowlees 05/10/2017


Thurso: Ex-CR Class 3P 4-4-0 54482 at Thurso in March 1961.
David Murray-Smith 17/03/1961


Thurso: 158717 from Inverness arriving in pouring rain at Thurso station at 14.21 on 17th June 2019. The train waited here for only six minutes before departing back to Georgemas Junction and continuing on to Wick. Since the abandonment of splitting trains at Georgemas into Thurso and Wick portions, running a single service up to Thurso first before reversing for Wick has, at least, given a direct rail service between the two main towns of Caithness, even if it does take longer now for Wick passengers to reach their destination.
David Bosher 17/06/2019

Michael Peason's latest book in the "Iron Road" series has been launched. This volume covers the lines from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh, Thurso and Wick.
(Permalink) Far North Line Kyle Line New Book

The railway bridge over Shore Road in Inverness was damaged and track slewed at 0600 on the 4th by an excavator on the back of a truck. Shore Road runs down the east side of the River Ness. The Inverness to Kyle and Inverness to Thurso and Wick lines were closed between Dingwall and Inverness, buses operating between Dingwall and Inverness.
(Permalink) Far North Line Kyle Line

EWS Freight trains start running to a new hard standing at Thurso station used by Thurso Building Supplies.
(Permalink) Far North Line

Beauly station is opened after a number of delays in being approved by the Health and Safety Executive).

Click on images for larger versions.



(Permalink) Far North Line

EWS invests 50,000 in upgrading the Georgemas Junction to Thurso line which it is estimated will lead to the removal of 350,000 truck loads per year.


(Permalink) Far North Line

The new station at Beauly, built by First Engineering and only one carriage in length, is complete but not yet open due to HSE concerns which have led to only conditional consent.
(Permalink) Far North Line

Work to build a new 200,000 Beauly station begins. The station will be served by trains from Kyle of Lochalsh, Thurso and Wick to Inverness. Journey time to Inverness will be 15 minutes. The station facilities will include a 15 metre long single platform (allowing access for disabled passengers and cyclists), a shelter, car park, lighting and public telephone access to train running information. The station will be built by Glasgow based First Engineering.

(Permalink) Far North Line Kyle Line

The Strategic Rail Authority announced a 84k award of Rail Passenger Partnership funding to Highland Rail Developments towards the 200k cost of reopening Beauly Station (which closed 13 June 1960) from the start of the winter 20001/2 timetable as a very short platform alongside which the two centre doors of a Class 158 will open.



Chris Austin of the SRA and Charles Kennedy MP were photographed afterwards standing on the old platform with the 1152 Kyle of Lochalsh to Edinburgh posing alongside them.

(Permalink) Far North Line Kyle Line

- Turbostars introduced

- Bike van on Far North lines

- New Largs station opened

(Permalink) Far North Line

KML version