Highland Main Line

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Highland Main Line
Tomatin railway viaduct 02.jpg
The Highland Main Line viaduct over
the River Findhorn at Tomatin
Overview
Type Heavy rail
System National Rail
Status Operational
Locale Perth and Kinross
Highland
Scotland
Termini Perth
Inverness
Stations 10
Operation
Owner Network Rail
Operator(s) First ScotRail
East Coast
Rolling stock Class 43 "HST"
Class 158 "Express Sprinter"
Class 170 "Turbostar"
Technical
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
Highland Main Line
Kyle of Lochalsh Line
Far North Line
Rose Street Junction
Welsh's Bridge Junction
Inverness
Millburn Junction
Aberdeen to Inverness Line
Slochd Summit
Carrbridge
Strathspey Railway
Aviemore
Kingussie
Newtonmore
Dalwhinnie
Drumochter Summit
Blair Atholl
Pitlochry
Dunkeld and Birnam
Glasgow to Aberdeen Line
Perth
Moncrieffe Tunnel
Edinburgh to Aberdeen Line
Ladybank
Edinburgh to Aberdeen Line
Gleneagles
Dunblane
Bridge of Allan
Croy Line (to Alloa)
River Forth
Stirling
M876 motorway
Larbert
Edinburgh to Dunblane Line
Glasgow to Aberdeen Line
Croy Line (to Glasgow)

The Highland Main Line is a railway line in Scotland. It is 118 mi (190 km) long and runs through the Scottish Highlands linking a series of small towns and villages with Perth at one end and Inverness at the other. Today, services between Inverness and Edinburgh, Glasgow and London use the line. At Inverness the line connects with the Far North Line, the Aberdeen-Inverness Line and services on the Kyle of Lochalsh Line. All trains are diesel-powered, since the line is not electrified.

Much of the Highland Main Line is single track, and trains coming in opposite directions are often timed to arrive at stations at the same time, where crossing loops permit them to pass. Journey times between Inverness and Edinburgh or Glasgow are approximately three and a half hours.[1]

History[edit]

The vast majority of the line was built and operated by the Highland Railway with a small section of the line between Perth and Stanley built by the Scottish Midland Junction Railway, amalgamated with the Aberdeen Railway to become the Scottish North Eastern Railway in 1856, and then absorbed by the Caledonian Railway in 1866. Originally, the line between Inverness and Perth went via Forres, but the Inverness and Aviemore Direct Railway was opened in 1898 to allow for a more direct routeing.

There are two significant summits on the line; Drumochter Summit between Blair Atholl and Dalwhinnie, and Slochd Summit between Carrbridge and Inverness. Other distinct features on the route include the viaducts at Culloden and Tomatin, the spectacular mountain pass at Drumochter and the severe gradients encountered in both directions, particularly the extended climb from Inverness to the Slochd summit which averages around 1 in 60 the whole way.

Stations and services[edit]

As of 2004, there are stations on the line as follows:

Places served Ordnance Survey grid references
and other notes
Perth NO112230
Dunkeld and Birnam NO030417
Shared station
Pitlochry NN937580
Blair Atholl NN870653
Dalwhinnie NN634848
Newtonmore NN715984
Kingussie NH756003
Aviemore NH895123
Connection with Strathspey Railway
Carrbridge NH899224
Inverness NH667454

Services on the line are provided by First ScotRail and East Coast. A roughly two-hourly First ScotRail service operates between Perth and Inverness throughout the day, with all services running from either Glasgow Queen Street (via Stirling) or Edinburgh Waverley (via Kirkcaldy). The East Coast service is titled 'The Highland Chieftain'. Formed of a HST unit, it departs Inverness at around 8am and runs to London Kings Cross, via Perth, Stirling, Falkirk, Edinburgh and the East Coast Main Line, arriving in London at about 4pm. The return working leaves London at midday and reaches Inverness in the late evening.

There is also a First ScotRail-operated sleeping car service that travels overnight between Inverness and London Euston via Perth, Stirling, Edinburgh Waverley and the West Coast Main Line, under the title 'The Caledonian Sleeper'. This joins portions from Aberdeen and Fort William at Edinburgh Waverley and south of there becomes the longest locomotive-hauled passenger train in the UK - regularly loading to 17 Mark 2/3 coaches.

Reliability on the route is variable, due to many areas being single line. Also, because ScotRail are not fined for the late running or cancellation of trains in extreme weather, it means that a high number of trains on this route are allowed to run late or are cancelled in comparison to the rest of Scotland, as weather here is often snow for many weeks during winter.

Panoramic view of Culloden Viaduct with a First ScotRail train on the Highland Line on it

Usage[edit]

Station usage at some stations remain stable. Overall usage on the line comparing April 2003 to April 2010 has increased 154%.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Highland line timetables

External links[edit]