Highland line friends are given presentation
PRESENTATIONS from two major train company officials featured in last week’s annual general meeting of a group promoting the development of train services in the West Highlands.
Friends of the West Highland Lines welcomed Alex Sharkey, head of operations at Network Rail, and Alasdair Smart, tourism manager at ScotRail, to the Alexandra Hotel last Friday, May 12.
Mr Sharkey outlined plans for cutting vegetation on the West Highland Line (WHL). He said £ 50,000 is available for the work.
He said: ‘This year we were going to spend some money doing the Kyle of Lochalsh line but because the vegetation is so bad on the WHL we have decided to spend all of the £ 50,000 on it and try to get extra funding to do the Plockton area.’
Mr Sharkey explained the cost of maintaining and renewing the WHL is around £11m a year and millions have been spent in Scotland on drainage, following bad storms. On the development and future of the line, the idea of bringing more freight trains was discussed. ‘In the next couple of years we need to be looking at encouraging freight onto the railways. There needs to be conversations about what freight we can lift on to the railways to take it away from the roads.’
Improvements to Banavie swing bridge should be finished in six weeks. Mr Sharkey, who visited the bridge before the AGM, said concerns about ‘potential access to the workings underneath the bridge’ are being addressed. Concerns about people who are visually impaired knowing when the bridge was going to swing were also raised.
A buzzer to sound the bridge beginning to swing was suggested.