Callander and Oban Railway

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Callander and Oban Railway
Locale Scotland
Dates of operation 5 July 1865 – 31 December 1922
Successor London, Midland and Scottish Railway
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
Ballachulish Ferry
North Connel
Connel Ferry
Falls of Cruachan
Loch Awe
Ben Cruachan Quarry Branch
Tyndrum (1873-1877) (1st station)
Crianlarich Junction
West Highland Railway
Crianlarich (Upper)(WHR)
Crianlarich Lower
West Highland Railway
Killin Junction
Killin Railway
Lochearnhead, St Fillans and Comrie Railway
Callander (original)(DD&CR)
Callander & Oban Junction
Dunblane, Doune and Callander Railway

The Callander and Oban Railway company was formed in 1864 with the objective of linking Callander, Scotland to the west coast port of Oban over challenging terrain, particularly at Glen Ogle and the Pass of Brander at Loch Awe. Callander had been reached in 1858 by the Dunblane, Doune and Callander Railway (soon to be absorbed into Scottish Central Railways and then Caledonian Railway). Starting in 1866, the single track line passed Killin in 1870, reaching Tyndrum in 1873 and Dalmally in 1877. Following completion in 1880, Oban developed as a fashionable resort, though economically the railway was never really profitable.

In 1923, the Railway became part of LMS.

Branch lines and connections to other lines[edit]

Major constructions came when a branch line was built to Ballachulish.

There were also connections to the:

Dunblane, Doune and Callander Railway[edit]

The Dunblane, Doune and Callander Railway had opened in 1858. It was formally closed with the eastern section of the Callander and Oban Railway on 5 November 1965.

Killin Railway[edit]

The five mile Killin Branch opened on 13 March 1886. The branch to Loch Tay at Killin was privately owned and funded by local landowners as the Killin Railway required viaducts over the rivers Dochart and Lochay.

Ballachulish Branch[edit]

Loch Creran Bridge in 1971.

The 1903 branch to the Ballachulish slate quarries spanned Loch Etive with a spectacular cantilever bridge at Connel, and also Loch Creran. As originally planned in 1894, the line was to extend through to Fort William and Banavie.[1] In 2010, a bridge at Connel Ferry that had been built as part of a never-completed curve intended to allow direct running between Oban and Ballachulish was demolished.[2]

Comrie, St Fillans & Lochearnhead Railway[edit]

The Comrie, St Fillans & Lochearnhead Railway connection (following the take-over by the Caledonian Railway) from Crieff along Loch Earn reached Balquhidder Junction on 1 May 1905 with the Kendrum Viaduct over Glen Ogle at Lochearnhead.

West Highland Railway[edit]

The chord between Crianlarich Upper and Crianlarich Lower Junction was opened in 20 December 1897, connecting to the West Highland Railway, however it did not see its first regular passenger services until 23 May 1949.

Ben Cruachan Quarry Branch[edit]

The Ben Cruachan Quarry Branch was a short freight-only line that connected east of Loch Awe railway station. It closed in 1916.

Glasgow - Oban express in Pass of Leny, near Callander in 1961

Closures and current operations[edit]

Only the Crianlarich - Oban section remains open today as a branch of the West Highland Line.

The eastern section was scheduled for closure on 1 November 1965; however, the section between Callander and Crianlarich (along with the Killin branch) was closed following a landslide in Glen Ogle on 27 September 1965 and never reopened.[3][4] Much of the eastern section has been converted to a cycle path known as the Rob Roy Way, with the Kendrum viaduct (on the Lochearnhead, St Fillans and Comrie Railway) restored in 2001 (the girders spanning the river having been scrapped).

Nearly all the stations on the Callander to Crianlarich section of the route have been demolished, with Callander station site now occupied by a car park and Strathyre by housing. The site of Crianlarich Lower is now occupied by the Crianlarich Community Centre. Balquhidder and Luib stations are now caravan parks. The island platform at Killin Junction survives, though the area is now obscured with trees and undergrowth. Only Glenoglehead station building still stands, now in use as a private house.

Most of the underbridges have been removed and/or destroyed; however, the impressive Glen Ogle viaduct still survives.

Parts of the trackbed between Killin Junction and Crianlarich have been obliterated by improvements to the A85 road.

The Ballachulish branch closed on 28 March 1966. Connel Bridge and Creagan (Loch Creran) Bridge are now used for road traffic, the latter following an almost complete reconstruction in 1999.

Much of the track bed between Ballachulish and North Connel has, wherever possible, been used as part of National Route 78 of the Sustrans National Cycle Network which will, when complete, run from Fort William to Oban to Campbeltown.



  1. ^ Bound Plans and Sections of Callander and Oban Railway Proposed Ballachulish, Fort William and Banavie Extension: Line From South Connel To Fort William, With Branch From Ballachulish To Pier On Loch Leven At East Laroch, and Other Works, Nov 1894, RHP47659, The National Archives of Scotland
  2. ^ "Demolition of the bridge that was intended to carry a direct line chord from Oban to Ballachulish at Connel Ferry on 29 June 2010". RailScot. Retrieved 26 May 2012. 
  3. ^ Sanders and Hodgins; p 40
  4. ^ Thomas; pp 127 to 131


  • Jowett, Alan (March 1989). Jowett's Railway Atlas of Great Britain and Ireland: From Pre-Grouping to the Present Day (1st ed.). Sparkford: Patrick Stephens Ltd. ISBN 1-8526-0086-1. OCLC 22311137. 
  • Sanders, Keith; Hodgins, Douglas (1998). British Railways Past and Present No 31 - North West Scotland (1st ed.). Great Addington, Kettering, Northants: Past & Present. ISBN 1-8589-5090-2. OCLC 41019274. 
  • Sanders, Keith; Hodgins, Douglas (2001). British Railways Past and Present No 31 - North West Scotland (Revised ed.). Great Addington, Kettering, Northants: Past & Present. ISBN 1-8589-5090-2. OCLC 54022071.