Rail sense

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Last week’s news rightly belonged to the new Borders Railway. At last the Borders is rightfully connected once again to the British rail network. Congratulations to all concerned.

In Scotland, attention needs to turn to other strategic lines such as those connecting with the South-west and the Highlands.

The problem in the Highlands is that all three lines converging on the City of Inverness are 
single track and this causes serious operating headaches and 
inefficiencies. The chief executive of Inverness Chamber of Commerce recently described all three railways as being “unfit for purpose” and many would 
agree.

Work has started to improve the Aberdeen to Inverness line, but there is little or nothing for the lines north of Inverness which are suffering severe delays from single line congestion.

The biggest worry is over the Highland Main Line from Perth to Inverness, where announcement of the next phase of improvements is running some two years late.

The Scottish economy, not just the Highland economy, badly needs to see the doubling of much of this line and its subsequent electrification to create a railway as good as the new line from Airdrie to Bathgate.

The current passing loops are too short for modern freight trains and the line speed is much too slow for passengers (particularly business travellers), between the Central Belt and Inverness.

Major capacity and speed improvements have been promised by 2025 and electrification before 2030, and it is important to do as much as possible of this before the A9 dualling is completed in 2025.

Establishing the railway’s credentials before the road is completed is the way to ensure that more freight and passenger traffic use the safer, more sustainable and carbon-friendly mode of transport, easing road and parking congestion in the cities and saving on fossil fuels.

We owe it to future generations to do this and provide an attractive alternative to the 
A9 road.

R J Ardern

Southside Road

Inverness

David Spaven (Letters, 14 September) hits the nail on the head. Would-be passengers will not convert to rail travel if it is seen as unfriendly in ticket purchase, late running and overcrowding.

A sign of an efficient company is when management is seen to be on the front line, managing the problems. We all know that a single ticket machine at Tweedbank was never going to cope, so why were blue-jacketed ticket staff not on hand?

To cope with the Sunday overcrowding at least a six-car train should operate, or even until Christmas to run half-hourly.

As predicted, the truncated double-track appears to have been proved disastrous. Rectifying this error will be costly.

Borders and City folk are keen to see it as a success and hope it will soon be extended to Melrose and Hawick.

Colin C Maclean

Hillpark Avenue

Edinburgh