Romance of rail travel takes a blow: End of hand-signal request stops is progress but we'll miss them – Scotsman comment

It is undoubtedly progress and, as we all know, progress marches on relentlessly towards a better world – or, at least, that’s the idea.

Dunrobin Castle station is among a cluster of remote platforms set for the upgrade (Picture: Nigel Thompson/Creative Commons)

But the decision to enable rail passengers to signal to train drivers by radio that they want it to stop at a remote station – instead of waving the service down like a bus – feels like we are losing a rather pleasant tradition.

It is a remnant of a time when life was a little bit slower and trains had the time to reduce speed just in case someone wanted to get on at places like Altnabreac, Dunrobin Castle, Kildonan, Invershin or Culrain.

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Network Rail says the installation of electronic kiosks in these stations and other ‘request stops', at a cost of £5 million, will create a digital system that is more user friendly and which will also improve operational performance.

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Wave goodbye to quirky hand signal stops across Scottish Highland stations

Given the small numbers of people using them – the station at Scotscalder near Halkirk attracts just 240 people a year – that should mean journey times are faster as drivers won’t have to slow down on the off chance of a passenger or two.

And that could actually encourage more people to use the services – and indeed the stations – rather than travelling by car.

So it’s hard not to conclude that this is a most sensible policy and things will be better for all concerned as a result – progress achieved.

And yet, the feeling lingers that a little of the romance of rail travel is about to fall by the wayside.

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