Rhoda supports Evanton reopening

MSP supports re-opening of Evanton station but believes it could be a long wait

 22 February 2017

A newly launched survey to boost the case for the re-opening of Evanton railway station is receiving backing from a Highlands and Islands MSP.

Labour’s Rhoda Grant says the case has been raised several times over the years and, although the footfall would not be huge, it would not only add to commuter services into and out of Inverness but would create another option for passengers using the whole of the Far North Line.

The station in the Mid Ross village was closed over 50 years ago.

 “The new Borders to Edinburgh railway line cost £294 million and took 45 years to revive, so there’s hope here.

“While Evanton is a much smaller project, there are a lot of hurdles to be crossed, including the shocking 4 hours 29 minute journey time from Inverness to Wick,” said Mrs Grant, Honorary Vice-President of Friends of the Far North line.

 “That has to be tackled as a priority as adding stops would increase the journey time for passengers.

“Getting infrastructure improvements like the Lentran Loop – creating a section of double track between Clachnaharry Swing Bridge and Beauly Station – should be top of the agenda.

“Such a loop could stop late running trains and prevent late running early in the day from affecting follow-on services.

“I’m urging Transport Scotland and Scottish Ministers to include this loop in its High Level Output Specification in June this year.

“The blueprint is aimed at improving performance, reducing journey times and increasing capacity and capability of the Scottish rail network.
“Poor performance and unreliability over the past three years has driven passengers away from the Far North Line.

“ It is about time the Scottish Government listened to the public and put some money into the major improvements needed.”

The Scottish Government recently announced a Far North Line Review Team to be chaired by the Rail Director, Transport Scotland and include representatives of Network Rail, ScotRail, Highlands & Islands Enterprise, Hitrans, Regional Transport Partnership, Transport Scotland, Highland Council and Friends of the Far North Line.

Mrs Grant is writing to Transport Minister Humza Yousaf to ask if the re-opening of Evanton station can be considered for the future and also to re-iterate the need for the Lentran Loop to speed up journey times on the Far North Line.

Since 1960, across Scotland, some 140 railway stations were opened or re-opened. In the Highlands these include Alness, Fort William, Duncraig, Muir of Ord, Loch Eil Outward Bound, Dunrobin Castle, Beauly, and Conon Bridge.