Trial on Scottish Highlands line set to signal end to practice of waving down trains

The days of passengers holding out their hand to flag down trains at some of Scotland’s most remote stations is almost at an end thanks to a new trial.

A newly-installed kiosk on the Far North Line will go on trail at Scotscalder station – situated about 105 miles north of Inverness – from Monday.

As first reported in The Scotsman, the kiosk will eliminate the need for passengers to flag down trains at “request” stops under plans to make services run more punctually.

The kiosk at Scotscalder – the first of eight that will be rolled out across the Highland route – will allow travellers to instead signal electronically to train drivers for a service to stop.

The new kiosk installed at Scotscalder station. Picture: Network Rail

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If the trial is successful, the new system will be rolled out over coming months at Altnabreac, Kinbrace, Kildonan, Dunrobin Castle, Rogart, Invershin and Culrain.

The kiosk’s installation at Scotscalder is part of a £5 million investment in the line's radio signalling system.

Cara Healy, Network Rail’s development manager for the work on the Far North Line, said: “Enhancing the radio network will make the experience of using request-stop stations more straightforward for local people and for the increasing number of tourists visiting the area.

“Once the trial period is complete at Scotscalder, we are confident that the system will be ready to be rolled out to improve performance and the overall passenger experience for those travelling on the railway.

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“This new system will make it easier to use some of the most remote stations on our network and hopefully help encourage more people to travel into the Highlands to walk, climb, cycle and sightsee.”

The innovation has been viewed as more user friendly for foreign tourists.

Information will be available on platforms under the trial to highlight the change to passengers, Network Rail said. There will be a period of dual running of both hand signalling and the kiosk service under the trial.

David Simpson, ScotRail service delivery director, said: “Enabling the driver to be alerted in advance to the need to stop in the station, rather than being reliant on hand-signalling, delivers a safer and more reliable system, and means that trains don’t need to slow down at stations where there are no passengers waiting.

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“This will improve performance and it’s a really positive step for the operation of the route.”

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