Highland Mainline Community Rail Partnership

Winter Newsletter

On a snowy, windy afternoon in blizzard conditions, the HML CRP held their 1st meeting of 2018 and their penultimate meeting of our current financial year. We grouped in Kingussie for a discussion on our way forward and update on projects. One thing is clear to us all, we do see ourselves as guardians of the heritage of our line, both structural and cultural.

Highland Mainline Community Rail Partnership

Neil Sinclair

You will recall following on from the AGM in September we welcomed renowned author Neil Sinclair, to give a series of talks on the Highland Main Line in our smaller communities; Blair Atholl, Dunkeld & Birnam, Kingussie and Carrbridge. Neil wrote a very good article on the Highland Mainline Community Rail Partnership for publication in the Highland Railway Magazine, which you can read here. Thank you Neil, we hope to see you again at some point.

Heritage Project

From our archive collection, early 20th century timetable and Staff of the Highland Railway - Pitlochry

Highland Mainline Community Rail Partnership

Jellicoe Express Plaque Unveilings, Kingussie & Aviemore

On the 12th December 2017 we were delighted to welcome Captain Chris Smith R.N to Kingussie and Aviemore to unveil plaques commemorating the 100th anniversary of the “The Jellicoe Express”, which stopped at both of these stations along the way.

Highland Mainline Community Rail Partnership

L to R: Allan Dean ScotRail, Capt. Chris Smith R.N, Angus Blackstock; very last Kingussie Station Master, Ailsa Schofield HML CRP, Trevor Carnell RNA, Bob Cockburn RNA.

During the First (and Second) World Wars, the railway was the quickest way to transport sailors and troops from London to Thurso, and other Naval bases. It was nicknamed the Jellicoe Express after Admiral Sir John Jellicoe, and ran continually, twice a day for seven days a week for the duration of the war. It transported thousands of personnel, only stopping to take on water and fuel.

Highland Mainline Community Rail Partnership

L to R: Captain Chris Smith R.N, Bob Cockburn RNA, Trevor Carnell RNA and Allan Dean ScotRail.

Highland Mainline Community Rail Partnership

L to R: Al Dargie Aviemore CC Vice Chair, Captain Chris Smith RN, John Grierson HML CRP.


Recently our Treasurer, Kate Howie, attended two very interesting conferences as well as being asked to give a presentation at each on the HML CRP.

The first hosted by Tactran on 30 November in Perth where Scott Prentice, Head of Business Development ScotRail Alliance, spoke at length about the proposed new timetable for the lines from Edinburgh and Glasgow to Inverness. He also described the upgrades required on the Highland Main Line to facilitate such a timetable. Other interesting presentations were of the development of a Freight Terminal at Blackford for Highland Spring Water and also the new Dundee and Stirling stations.

The other conference – HITRANS Rail Stakeholder Conference on 29 January in Inverness – was very well attended with excellent speakers – Alex Hynes the Managing Director of the ScotRail Alliance, Bill Reeve the Rail Director of Transport Scotland and Peter Strachan Chairman of Serco who run the Caledonian Sleeper.

Both these conferences gave an excellent opportunity to network and raise the profile of HML CRP.

Kingussie Art Project

Plans are well advanced to provide posters for Kingussie Railway Station, advertising local heritage and attractions etc. These are being produced by the Society of Badenoch & Strathspey Artists (SBSA) in collaboration with HML CRP. The Society have completed a number of paintings, and once choices have been made the pictures will be professionally photographed before being sent to a graphic designer and then printed. We can’t wait to see the results!

Highland Mainline Community Rail Partnership

An Artists impression of The Iona Gallery, Duke Street, Kingussie. This is the only public art gallery in the Cairngorm National Park, run by community group the SBSA (Society of Badenoch and Strathspey Artists).

Sleeper Totems

The Caledonian Sleeper Totems are just about all in place along our line, seems to have been a planning issue with Carrbridge and Aviemore and CNPA, but hopefully that will be resolved soon.

Priscilla Lorimer

We were saddened to hear of the death of Priscilla Lorimer late last year. Priscilla was the founder of the Pitlochry Station Liaison Group many years ago in the early 90's when we were fighting to keep the Station manned. She also successfully campaigned for the early morning train from Blair Atholl, (which now commences in Inverness and an early train leaves Perth). She then went on to found the Bookshop in 2005 with Elizabeth Templeton, a few books sold from a table made £200. Who would have thought that small venture would lead to over £250,000 being raised for Charity by 2017 and an Award for Voluntary Fundraising Group of the Year in 2017 from the Scottish Institute of Fundraising. A fantastic feisty lady whose legacy lives on in the Pitlochry and Highland Perthshire Stations Liaison Group ladies, now in its 25th year, and Pitlochry Station Bookshop.

Highland Mainline Community Rail Partnership

Pitlochry Station Bookshop have been busy at the Winter Words Festival at Pitlochry Festival Theatre. The stalwart volunteers are doing a great job, Priscilla would be proud of them.

Great news from partners on our line

Dalwhinnie Distillery won the Best Distillery Tour Award in 2017 from Drinks International. The distillery stands in the Cairngorm National Park at the heart of the Scottish Highlands in the village of Dalwhinnie. From this remote, but accessible location comes the liquid known as the gentle spirit. The Distillery is celebrating by offering free tours until March 29th, with a 45 minute tour, 2 drams, taste of chocolate, free complimentary glass and book of discount vouchers. The distillery sits alongside the Highland Mainline and is the highest distillery in Scotland, the average temperature up there is 6degs, so a cold place to live and work. A brisk 10 minute walk from the Station.

Badenoch Great Place Project

We are also delighted to report that the Cairngorm National Park Authority have secured Heritage Lottery Funding for their 3 year Heritage Project. We attended the workshops last autumn to give our input. This is a partnership between Badenoch Heritage, VABS, Transport Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, Highland Council, Highlife Highland (Highland Folk Museum) and Royal Zoological Society Scotland (Highland Wildlife Park).


Station news

Pitlochry Station - At long last the three missing stone finials have been replaced this January, the local group were most concerned at the disappearance of these iconic parts of Platform 1's building, especially as one was lying cracked in the old ladies toilets. Still no progress on the new salt stores, it is now 15 months since plans were passed by the local authority..

Highland Mainline Community Rail Partnership

Station Adoption

As most of us are also Station Adopters, we have had a gardening break over the winter, but early signs of bulbs breaking thru the snow, show Spring is on the way. As the average temperature in Dalwhinnie is just 6degs, we have weather to deal with that Central Belt cannot imagine! We didn't manage to persuade the maintenance teams to get all our new containers in place last year, but we hope to rectify that this Springtime. A couple of Stations are getting extra to replace the falling apart whisky barrels we all have. We were fired up by Louis Wall at our October Board meeting.

ACORP news

We welcomed Brian Barnsley, ACORP Senior Operations Manager and Jools Townsend CEO to talk to us about the new structure at ACORP in Stirling at the beginning of February, and how the Scottish CRP's can work with ACORP personnel and benefit from their experience and expertise. We look forward to seeing more of Brian in the Highlands!

1st March 2018

Our final meeting of our current year promises to be a good one and is open to the Public from 2pm. We welcome Professor Paul Salveson on Community Rail, Stuart Mackay of BAMNuttall on Pitlochry platform upgrades, Scott Prentice - Head of Business Development on Revolution in Rail 2018 and Graeme Stewart - Network Rail on the HML upgrade.

"The Beast From The East"

Will the weather reaching us from Siberia be as bad as the frozen fountain in Pitlochry in the winter of 1942?

Highland Mainline Community Rail Partnership

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