Highland Mainline Community Rail Partnership

Winter Newsletter

Highland Mainline Community Rail Partnership

Good News from our Stations

Another few months has passed in our Pandemic world and we hope all our Followers are still keeping well and safe. This time last year we were restricted to local area travel only, so the Highland Main Line was split in half and we could only move around in our Council area. This year we can travel, but alarmingly are facing another variant of COVID. We did venture out and about to all our Stations over the summer and autumn and did some rudimentary tidying up and made work lists for next Spring. We are all very much hoping for a more peaceful family Christmas at the end of 2021.


The ORR passenger numbers have just been released for 2020 and it makes a devastating read to see how the Pandemic and Lockdowns affected rail travel on the Highland Main Line. We show the statistics below for those of you who are interested. In 2021 there has been a recovery from April onwards once Lockdown was over and although we only have figures up to Week 45, the increase has been steady and rising up to about 67% of Pre Covid levels. It would also seem that we have a relatively small number of Peak time travellers, the majority being off peak, which points to our main users being Leisure travellers. At this moment in time we have been advised that the Rail Delivery Group are reviewing the whole raison d’etre behind peak time travel and what that will happen in the future.

Station  2018/19 2019/20 2020/21 
Dunkeld & Birnam 36,930 36,608 7,740-79%
Pitlochry 125,006 121,060 22,450-81%
Blair Atholl 21,008 18,388 3,688-80%
Dalwhinnie 3,368 3,226 614-81%
Newtonmore 7,848 7,456 1,498-80%
Kingussie 40,758 39,254 7,352-81%
Aviemore 138,490 132,618 25,492-81%
Carrbridge 5,584 5,474 1,622-70%
Totals 378,992 364,084 70,456-79%

“All Aboard” Exhibition in Perth

Culture Perth & Kinross report that their summer exhibition at Perth Museum & Art Gallery, ‘All Aboard’, was very well received by visitors.

Highland Mainline Community Rail Partnership

The exhibition explored the impact of the railways in the Perth & Kinross area and the particular significance of Perth as a major joint station serving multiple railway companies.

With a combination of railway objects and photographs from the museum’s own collections and material kindly loaned my the railway community, there was plenty to entertain both young and old.

Highland Mainline Community Rail Partnership

Stunningly detailed model railway locomotives from The Caledonian, North British and Highland Railway lines were on display in the show. The Highland models were provided by The Kennedy Highland Railway Models Trust which was set up on the death of James Kennedy in 1984. For a period of over 30 years James had been constructing models of the Highland Railway in Gauge 1, which he ran in his garden in Inverness.

Culture Perth & Kinross are very grateful too for the support of the Scottish Model Engineering Trust who provided supported running for a live model railway layout which was a big hit with younger visitors especially.

Neil Sinclair – Author

We are delighted to say that Neil is working on his latest book about the Highland Main Line. It is due to be published next year and we hope to launch the book up here, all things being well.

Highland Mainline Community Rail Partnership
Highland Mainline Community Rail Partnership

The book is entitled Highland Railway Buildings and we look forward to reading what Neil has written about our line. Some of you may remember Neil and his talks in Dunkeld & Birnam, Blair Atholl, Kingussie and Carrbridge a few years back.

Highland Mainline Community Rail Partnership

Dalwhinnie Station

Work is still ongoing to get the “Monty” plaque back in situ and we have had a site meeting to look again at the original clock

Highland Mainline Community Rail Partnership

Kingussie Station

We are very happy to report that eventually all planning permissions were put in place for “Wild Thinking” and Jillian has been able to commence work on the much needed and anticipated restoration of the Station buildings at long last.

Pitlochry Station

We are delighted to announce that Pitlochry Station received a “Highly Commended” in the National Rail Awards in September in the Small Station category.

Highland Mainline Community Rail Partnership

Station Bookshop

Pitlochry Station Bookshop have now begun selling Book Vouchers to expand their possibilities of fund raising for their charities. It has been a tough two years for any fund raising, so new options are always being looked at. They held a very successful Book Fayre in Fishers Hotel on Saturday 11th December.

And they are famous, recent article published in New Mexico about the wonderful work they do.

Transport Scotland

There are going to be some sweeping changes next year when ScotRail moves into Government ownership from April. We have received the following statement from Transport Scotland.

“As most folk are probably aware, Scottish Ministers confirmed on 17th March 2021 the Scottish Government will secure the delivery of passenger rail through a wholly owned company on completion of the current franchise open brackets 31st March 2022 closed brackets in line with our Operator of Last Resort duty.

Transport Scotland is currently undertaking detailed work to put in place arrangements to mobilise a wholly owned company of the Scottish Government to provide ScotRail services within the public sector under Scottish Government control. The revised arrangements will start when the current franchise expires as expected on 31st of March 2022.

Abellio ScotRail staff and the terms and conditions, will transfer to the new Scottish Government owned entity, ScotRail Trains Ltd. Transport Scotland has also created a transitional team to take forward the transition from Abellio ScotRail to ScotRail trains and to progress the work required to ensure a smooth transition.

Much of that detailed work is very much “a work in progress” however it is progressing apace and CRP colleagues should look out for further announcements as more detail of the new arrangements will be available the closer we get to 1st of April 2022.

This is an exciting time to be part of Scotland's railway family and we look forward to seeing CRPs go from strength to strength under the new arrangements.”


We are delighted that Kingussie Railway Station in the snow made the cover of LNER’s 2022 Calendar. We attended the recent Stakeholders meeting in Edinburgh and listened with interest to the speakers about 2021 and plans for the future.

ScotRail Santa Express

ScotRail ran the first Santa Express on Saturday 4th December, leaving Waverley Station and running up the Highland Main Line as far as Aviemore and then journeying onto the Strathspey line to Broomhill to see the Cairngorms Reindeer. Santa was on board along with his elves helping out and the tickets sold out in 48 hours. All funds raised will go to the “Railway Children” charity, sadly the 4 trips around the Fife Line before Christmas had to be cancelled due to the pandemic. It looked like great fun and perhaps it may happen again in future.

Network Rail

A significant milestone has been reached in the #A9Dualling: Tomatin to Moy project, as a new rail bridge is installed at Lynebeg. Read the full article here

Highland Mainline Community Rail Partnership

“Whereverly” App

We have been providing contacts and information for the second “Highland Discovery” app being worked up for the Highland Main Line. Some of you may recall the original one followed the A9, so we are pleased to be involved in the promotion of our wonderful railway line.

We would love to recruit some new volunteers next year, particularly to help with Station Adoption, we currently have no representatives for Newtonmore and Aviemore.

We would like to close by wishing everyone a very joyous Happy Christmas with loved ones this year and we all hope for a peaceful, healthy New Year in 2022.

Take Care, Stay Safe and Be Kind. We are all in this together.


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