Boom in rail travel is welcome but it’s not all good news for stations in Scotland

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RAIL travel is indeed booming all over the Scottish network (“A tale of two stations,” The Scotsman, 20 January).

However, the steep demise at Culrain on the Far North line is totally due to the sad closure of the adjacent Carbisdale Castle, one of the most iconic hostels in the world

There is little local traffic to serve Culrain but slightly further seaward is Ardgay, formerly Bonar Bridge station, and that has seen a 300 per cent increase since the introduction of two morning commuter services to Dingwall and Inverness

It should be remembered that the first “year” of stations like Howwood and Dalgety Bay was only a part-year, so this has somewhat skewed the yearly increase.

This should not detract from their amazing success, along with all the stations on the reopened Border Railway.

Colin C Maclean

Hillpark Avenue, Edinburgh

Andrew Allen, policy analyst of the Campaign for Better Transport, rightly highlights the enormous increase in train use over the last two decades.

Growth in use has been nothing less than phenomenal. The surprising factor is that this growth has occurred in spite of Scotland being cursed by use of the poorest quality long-distance trains in Europe, plus commuter trains that are short, few, inadequate and quite unable to cope with green transport such as bikes, never mind actual passengers.

ScotRail Alliance, that curious hybrid body encompassing train operator Abellio and Network Rail in Scotland, sprinkles fairy dust on the problem through a platitudinous statement that Abellio, Network Rail and (also, one assumes) Transport Scotland) are “addressing (the issue) through the franchise”.

No, I haven’t a clue either what’s meant by those words. But what I do know is that there would have to be a massive train-building programme started this very day if we are to have any hope at all of having enough seats on trains to support the number of passengers wanting to travel by train.

The disgraceful state of affairs of train shortages is met by heads-in-the-sand from Abellio and Transport Scotland.

Train quality is quite another matter, and we in Scotland are stuck with the disgraceful situation that what should be premier long-distance routes, such as Glasgow and Edinburgh to Aberdeen and Inverness, are covered by “steel boxes” (source: Phil Verster, managing director, ScotRail Alliance).

It is an uncomfortable fact of life that in 21st-century Scotland we do not possess a single train fit for purpose. This is one tunnel in which I see no light at the end, except that with train shortages, we’re now heading for the same train-packing that so recently afflicted rail travellers across the Forth Bridge.

Gordon Casely

Crathes, Kincardineshire

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