Inverness trains slower despite Alex Salmond pledge
JOURNEY times by train between the Central Belt and the capital of the Highlands are slower than they were a decade ago despite a pledge by the First Minister that they would be speeded up.
Alex Salmond, speaking after a cabinet meeting in Inverness in 2008, indicated that travel times would be slashed by up to 35 minutes through a series of rail improvements.
But rail campaigners claim that while driving between the south of Scotland and Inverness is now quicker due to road improvements, train passengers are still stuck on a largely single-track railway north of Perth. And although more trains have been added to the service since December, the additional congestion caused has slowed some services down, leaving passengers waiting longer in passing loops at stations.
The analysis of journey times has been made by rail campaign groups in the Highlands. Their research showed Glasgow trains are now taking up to three hours 36 minutes – ten minutes longer than in 2000 – with even the fastest services three minutes slower than before, at three hours 13 minutes.
The Friends of the Far North Line have also found the fastest Edinburgh trains now take three hours 20 minutes – five minutes longer than in 2000. The slowest run two minutes longer than back in 2000, at three hours 39 minutes.
Spokesman Richard Ardern said: “The Highland railways are still at the stage the roads were at in the 1960s and 1970s. They are like single-track roads with passing places, and not fit for purpose in the 21st century.”
He said nine trains now spent a total of nearly one hour waiting at stations such as Dunkeld and Pitlochry for another train to pass before they could go on.
He added: “Multiplied by the number of passengers carried, this is an awful lot of passenger delay minutes.”
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