Altnabreac railway station

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Scottish Gaelic: Allt nam Breac[1]
National Rail
Altnabreac Station (1) (geograph 2382619).jpg
Altnabreac railway station
General information
LocationAltnabreac, Highland
Coordinates58°23′18″N 3°42′21″W / 58.3882°N 3.7059°W / 58.3882; -3.7059Coordinates: 58°23′18″N 3°42′21″W / 58.3882°N 3.7059°W / 58.3882; -3.7059
Grid referenceND003456
Managed byScotRail
Other information
Station codeABC
Original companySutherland and Caithness Railway
Pre-groupingHighland Railway
Key dates
28 July 1874Opened[2]
2016/17Increase 356
2017/18Increase 658
2018/19Decrease 408
2019/20Decrease 232
2020/21Decrease 46
Passenger statistics from the Office of Rail and Road

Altnabreac railway station (/ˌæltnəˈbrɛk/) is a rural railway station in the Highland council area of Scotland. It serves the area of Altnabreac – a settlement in which the station itself is the main component – in the historic county of Caithness.

The station is on the Far North Line, 133 miles 76 chains (215.6 km) down the line from Inverness, situated between Forsinard and Scotscalder.[3] It has a single platform long enough to accommodate a four-carriage train. The station is managed by ScotRail, who operate all trains serving it.


The platform at Altnabreac, looking southwest

The station was opened by the Sutherland and Caithness Railway on 28 July 1874[2] and later absorbed by the Highland Railway.[4]

The reason for the station's construction is a mystery. At the time of construction it was 8 miles (13 km) from the nearest settlement and 10 miles (16 km) from the nearest road.[5] The only source of traffic at the station, Lochdhu Lodge, approximately 1.5 miles (2.4 km) to the south, was not built until 1895 and the Altnabreac School was not built until 1930. However, it had a passing loop with a water tank so may have been established for purely operational reasons.

Taken into the London, Midland and Scottish Railway during the Grouping of 1923, the line then passed on to the Scottish Region of British Railways on nationalisation in 1948. When Sectorisation was introduced by British Rail, the station became part of ScotRail until the Privatisation of British Rail.


The station is on a private dirt road between Loch More and Forsinain, marked as a cycle trail on Ordnance Survey maps. Being about 6.8 miles (11 km) from the nearest paved road and 11 miles (18 km) from the nearest village, Altnabreac is often listed as one of Britain's most geographically isolated railway stations, alongside Corrour elsewhere in Scotland, Dovey Junction in west Wales and Berney Arms in Norfolk.[6] The nearest village is Westerdale, which itself is in fact closer to Scotscalder station. Nevertheless, despite its isolation, the station is used by walkers and off-road cyclists, as well as railway enthusiasts and those who enjoy visiting remote locations.


The station has a help point, bike racks and a small waiting shelter.[7] As there are no facilities to purchase tickets, passengers must buy one in advance, or from the guard on the train.

Passenger volume[edit]

In the 2018–19 financial year the station saw 408 passengers, making it the 28th least-used station in the United Kingdom, although four other stations on the Far North Line had even fewer passengers, including neighbouring Scotscalder.[8]

Passenger Volume at Altnabreac[9]
  2002-03 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19 2019-20 2020-21
Entries and exits 93 164 171 222 177 212 156 172 238 296 138 240 312 356 658 408 232 46

The statistics cover twelve month periods that start in April.


Train approaching the station.

On weekdays and Saturdays, the service pattern from the station consists of four trains per day northbound to Wick via Thurso and three trains per day southbound to Inverness via Helmsdale, Golspie, Lairg, Tain and Dingwall. (There is a fourth train bound for Inverness but it is not scheduled to call at Altnabreac.) On Sundays there is just one train per day each way.[10]

This station is designated as a request stop. This means that passengers intending to alight must inform the guard in advance, and any passengers wishing to board must ensure they are in view of the train driver, and are required to use a hand signal to stop the train.

Preceding station National Rail National Rail Following station
Forsinard   ScotRail
Far North Line
  Historical railways  
Line and station open
  Highland Railway
Sutherland and Caithness Railway
Line and station open


  1. ^ Brailsford 2017, Gaelic/English Station Index.
  2. ^ a b Butt (1995), page 15
  3. ^ Bridge, Mike, ed. (2017). TRACKatlas of Mainland Britain: A Comprehensive Geographic Atlas Showing the Rail Network of Great Britain (3rd ed.). Sheffield: Platform 5 Publishing Ltd. p. 103. ISBN 978 1909431 26 3.
  4. ^ "The Sunderland and Caithness Railway". The Scotsman. British Newspaper Archive. 27 July 1874. Retrieved 14 August 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  5. ^ "They're just loco - Britain's most bizarre train stations". The Express. 31 March 2014.
  6. ^ Caton, Peter (28 August 2018). Remote Stations. p. 268. ISBN 978-1-78901-408-2.
  7. ^ "National Rail Enquiries -". Retrieved 3 April 2022.
  8. ^ Office of Rail Regulation: Station Usage
  9. ^ "Estimates of station usage | ORR Data Portal". Retrieved 3 April 2022.
  10. ^ eNRT December 2021 Edition, Table 219


External links[edit]