Strathspey Railway (preserved)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Strathspey Railway
Grantown-on-Spey (West)
Boat of Garten
Aviemore (Speyside)
Aviemore National Rail

The Strathspey Railway (SR) in Badenoch and Strathspey, Highland, Scotland, operates a 10 miles (16 km) heritage railway from Aviemore to Broomhill, Highland via Boat of Garten, part of the former Inverness and Perth Junction Railway (later part of Highland Railway) which linked Aviemore with Forres. It is one of only a handful of primary/secondary main lines to be preserved in Britain today.

The route[edit]

The Strathspey Railway operates from platform 3 of Network Rail's Aviemore railway station. Until 1998 the railway's southern terminus was Aviemore Speyside about 300 yards further north. Aviemore Speyside is no longer in regular use, although its platform has been retained as a fallback in case of problems with access to the Network Rail station. Coaling of the steam locomotives is carried out at a facility constructed in 2014 on the site of the former Aviemore Speyside station building. Its signal box, which was formerly at Garve West and transported from there in 1986, was retained when the station itself shut. New features are gradually being brought into service at the Aviemore site controlled using traditional British Railways mechanical semaphore signalling.

From Aviemore, the line passes the four road locomotive shed which was constructed by the Highland Railway in 1898. The original purpose of the shed was to house locomotives for the lines to Perth and Inverness (via Carrbridge and Forres). It was common for original Highland Railway engines to be allocated to the shed and in London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS) days it housed Stanier Black Fives, Pickersgill Bogies (Caledonian Railway), Caley 439 tanks, Caley 812 classes, and Fairburn tanks. In British Railways days the shed was allocated the shed code '60B'. These days the engines that are in traffic on the Strathspey Railway still bear the 60B shedplate on their smokebox. The shed has a 60-foot turntable, originally from Kyle of Lochalsh.[1] There is also a carriage maintenance shed which was erected and opened for use in 2005; this shed allows the railway's volunteers and staff to work on its fleet of coaches indoors. On the opposite side of the line is a three road carriage storage shed erected and opened in 2011; this allows the coaches to be stored under cover and protected from the weather.

The former engine crew hostel, called Spey Lodge, stands just to the north. This building was erected by the LMS during the Second World War to provide railway crews with a safe and cheap option for accommodation whilst rostered to work locally. The British Railways Staff Association For Scotland then took it on to provide holiday accommodation for railway staff and their families. It was saved by the Strathspey Railway Company during the 1970s and gradually the facilities have been upgraded by volunteers. Spey Lodge now fulfils its original role again, providing hostel accommodation for engine crews and other volunteers working on the railway.

After Spey Lodge, the railway passes the site of the new Aviemore Hospital then crosses Dalfaber level crossing, an Automatic Open Crossing, Locally Monitored (AOCL). This level crossing was not originally part of the railway, but was installed after the development of the Dalfaber Estate in the 1980s. After crossing the road and passing the adjacent Cairngorm Brewery the line climbs through Granish Moor. This heather moor affords views of Cairngorm Mountain and the line runs parallel to the Speyside Way, a popular walking and cycling route. Once into the forest at the north end of the moor, the line descends past Boat of Garten golf course and into the village of Boat of Garten itself.

Boat of Garten[edit]

Boat of Garten in 1961
View northward, towards Broomhill 1986
View southward, towards Aviemore in 1986
Steam rally in 2004

The extensive Boat of Garten station (57°14′53″N 3°45′09″W / 57.2480°N 3.7524°W / 57.2480; -3.7524 (Boat of Garten railway station)) features its original buildings, dating from 1904 by the architect William Roberts and is a category B listed building.[2][page needed].[3] The modest station building houses a booking hall and ticket office/shop plus toilets and the waiting room which still has its open fire. A recent addition is a coffee shop in the old gas house on platform 1. It was originally a parallel junction between the Highland Railway's main line from Perth to Forres and the Great North of Scotland Railway (GNSR) branch to Craigellachie - this was the original Strathspey Railway, the company being a subsidiary of the GNSR. Today there are two passenger platforms and the yard stores the majority of the SR's out of use rolling stock.

Boat of Garten also has the railway's only water column where the locomotives stop to take water on their way north through the station. There are two signal boxes, Boat of Garten North and Boat of Garten South and signalling uses traditional British Railways mechanical semaphore signalling; it is the crossing point on the line when there are two trains running. Both single track sections are currently worked by staff and ticket with the section from Boat of Garten South to Aviemore Speyside about to be converted to Electric Key Token working.

Most of what visitors to the railway see today is original from the days of British Railways. The main layout of the station has not been altered significantly, with the exception of the extensive yard behind the signal box. The turnout that formerly allowed access to the yard without having to access the headshunt was removed before the line closed and there are no plans to re-install it. A new storage shed was built over the first three tracks of the yard in 2018–2019 to provide additional covered accommodation.

Leaving Boat of Garten, trains cross the road on the new single track box-girder bridge and pass the site of the original GNSR engine shed; long demolished, it is now the site of a permanent way depot. The track had been lifted and structures demolished by British Rail after closure of the line in the 1960s. The railway now passes through mainly farmland following the River Spey on the re-laid track, which was mostly recovered from Kincardine power station in Fife in the 1990s. The tracks to Craigellachie and Grantown had originally left the station extending in a double track formation as far as Croftnahaven, where the GNSR line turned sharply south east and crossed the River Spey. This arrangement was adopted because a signal box for a junction here was deemed too expensive.


The line reaches its current terminus at Broomhill (57°17′00″N 3°40′01″W / 57.2834°N 3.6669°W / 57.2834; -3.6669 (Broomhill railway station)), in countryside roughly halfway between the villages of Nethy Bridge and Dulnain Bridge. The replica station building has been reconstructed on the foundations of the original. The run-round loop is beyond the station. It is anticipated that this will be removed when the extension to Grantown is complete. Broomhill was used as the station for Glenbogle, in the BBC series "Monarch of the Glen".

Future extension[edit]

In July 2006, the Scottish Executive made a firm commitment to re-aligning the A95 at Gaich, near Grantown. This move would allow the extension of the SR to Grantown along the original Highland Railway line to Dava and Forres. It is not now intended to reconstruct the former Grantown-on-Spey West railway station, now in an industrial estate; instead it is proposed to construct a new three platform terminus on a greenfield site about 3/4 track-mile further north. Track that was lifted from the Stirling to Alloa railway when it was relaid for a new passenger service has been donated to this project.

The BBC reported that the £2.9m road scheme would involve the rail line going under the A95. The then Transport Minister, Tavish Scott, said the project would be ready for construction by 2008–9 and funding had been allocated for 2009–10. Former Strathspey MP, Danny Alexander, speculated that the proposed rail link between Aviemore and Grantown would be good for tourism.[4]

By May 2007 the trackbed had been cleared north of the Broomhill loop as far as the bridge over the River Dulnain. New fencing, mileposts and drainage works were progressing and it was hoped for track laying to start later in 2008. Travelling by road along the A95 from Grantown towards Aviemore, new fencing marking the new track alignment could be seen.

In October 2008, it was announced that the steelwork of the former Merry Street Bridge in Motherwell had been donated to the railway by Network Rail. In February 2014, the Strathspey Railway used this steelwork to replace the missing bridge over the River Dulnain.[5] The bridge was installed, with the railway working with Colas Rail, who provided one of the few rail cranes in the UK capable of lifting the bridge into position. Following the installation, track has been laid across the bridge to the north side of the River Dulnain. No further construction work on the extension can be carried out until the Scottish Government grants the appropriate Statutory Order. Because the entire extension lies within the Cairngorm National Park, the formal application has had to be delayed so that additional wildlife and environmental studies can be undertaken.

However, Transport Scotland since notified the railway that the project has been reevaluated in late 2008 and was now estimated to cost £5.3 million, leading Transport Scotland to consider the extension project too expensive to pursue. The railway was faced with raising £1 million by 31 December 2009, to fund construction of a planned tunnel on the extension, but even if the funds were raised, construction was not guaranteed to occur.[6] In June 2016, the entire project, including the re-aligned A95 and new bridge at Gaich, track and new station, was estimated at £13.5M

Management for building the extension is being undertaken by The Strathspey Railway Charitable Trust. All the various fundraising efforts are co-ordinated by the SRCT, including a charitable appeal. They also manage the negotiations with the various landowners and public bodies required to push the line through to Grantown-on-Spey.

Strathspey Railway Association[edit]

The role of the Strathspey Railway Association is to provide funding and volunteers to run the Strathspey Railway. It is the biggest shareholder of the Strathspey Railway Company (the organisation which holds the light rail orders and operates the railway). Members fund various projects on the railway through an annual subscription and donations. A quarterly publication, "The Strathspey Express", is published by the Association to give members regular updates from the railway as well as articles of general railway interest.

Most of the people who work on the railway are volunteers belonging to the Association. Spey Lodge is managed by a sub-group of the Association to provide accommodation for volunteers.

Locomotives and rolling stock[edit]

British Railways No. 46512, an Ivatt Class 2 2-6-0
The unique Caledonian Railway 812 Class 0-6-0 No. 828
Andrew Barclay 0-6-0T No. 17 "Braeriach"

Steam locomotives[edit]

  • LMS 2-6-0 Class 2MT no. 46512 "E. V. Cooper, Engineer". Built Swindon 1952. Owned by Highland Locomotive Company. Operational, ten-yearly overhaul completed in November 2021. Boiler ticket expires in 2031.[7]
  • LMS 2-6-0 Class 2MT no. 46464 (The Carmyllie Pilot). Built Crewe 1950. Owned by The Carmyllie Pilot Company Limited. Being rebuilt at Aviemore after returning in 2020. Hauled the first steam passenger service on the SR on 22 July 1978 before leaving in 1989.
  • Caledonian Railway 0-6-0 812 Class no. 828 (17566, BR 57566) built in 1899. Operational, boiler re-certified for another five years in autumn 2020.[7]
  • LMS 4-6-0 Class 5MT no. 5025 (45025) built in 1934. Operational, launched into service in August 2021 following a major overhaul. Boiler ticket expires in 2031.
  • Wemyss Private Railway 0-6-0T no. 17 "Braeriach", built by Andrew Barclay & Son, Kilmarnock 1935 (works number 2017). Stored in Boat of Garten. [7]
  • WD 0-6-0ST Austerity no. 9. Built Robert Stephenson and Hawthorns 1943 (works number 7097). Undergoing overhaul at Aviemore.[7]
  • Andrew Barclay & Son, Kilmarnock 0-4-0ST (works no. 2020 of 1936) no. 2 "Balmenach". Stored at Aviemore out of use. [7]

Diesel locomotives[edit]

  • Andrew Barclay & Son, Kilmarnock 0-4-0DH (works no. 517 of 1966) "Power of Enterprise." Being restored in Aviemore loco shed.
  • BR 0-4-0 North British shunter no. D2774. Operational, painted BR Green.
  • BR 0-6-0 Class 08 no. 08490 (D3605). Operational, painted BR green.
  • BR Bo-Bo Class 26 no. 26002 (D5302). Stored in Boat of Garten.
  • BR Bo-Bo Class 26 no. 26025 (D5325). Stored in Boat of Garten.
  • BR Bo-Bo Class 27 no. 27050 (D5394). Built in 1962. Operational, painted BR Green.
  • BR A1A-A1A Class 31 no. 31327 (D5862). Operational, painted BR Green.
  • BR Co-Co Class 37 no. 37674 (D6869). Operational, painted Railfreight Red Stripe.
  • North British Locomotive Co 0-4-0 DH shunter. Works no 27549 of 1956. Stored at Boat of Garten awaiting overhaul.
  • Ruston & Hornsby 0-4-0 DM shunter. Works no 265618 of 1948. Queen Anne whisky livery. Operational.
  • Ruston & Hornsby 0-4-0 DM shunter. Works no 260756 of 1950. Stored out of use at Aviemore.

Diesel multiple unit cars[edit]

  • BR Class 107 DMBS Sc51990. Stored at Boat of Garten out of use.
  • BR Class 107 DMBS Sc52008. Stored at Boat of Garten out of use.
  • BR Class 107 DMSL Sc52030. Awaiting restoration.
  • BR Class 114 DTC E54047. Out of service.
  • BR Class 117 DMBS Sc51367. Operational and currently painted in BR green livery with speed whiskers.
  • BR Class 117 DMS Sc51402. Operational and currently painted in BR green livery with speed whiskers.
  • BR Class 117 TCL Sc59511. Under active restoration at Boat of Garten to be painted in BR green livery. Current plan of the owning group is to reinstate the first class seating, but remove the second class sections and replace with a buffet area. When the restoration is complete it will be coupled between Sc51367 and Sc51402 to form a prototypical 3-car class 117 set.

Passenger coaching stock[edit]

Railway Number Type Image Notes
Great North of Scotland Railway None 5-comp non-corridor third Built at Inverurie. Body has been repainted red.[8]
Great North of Scotland Railway None 5-comp non-corridor third Built at Inverurie. Currently at Aviemore Speyside Station.[9]
Highland Railway None 5-comp non-corridor third Built at Lochgorm. Stored outside under black cover with protection at an exposed end.[10]
North British Railway 1748 Non-corridor lavatory Third North British Railway 1748 TL (24060414686).jpg Built in 1905 at Cowlairs. Only of its type left. Carriage is a full wooden body with original underframe and bogies.[11]
London, Midland & Scottish Railway 27234 Third Open Built in 1945 at Wolverton. LMS livery, currently stored non-operational.[12]
London, Midland & Scottish Railway 27043 Brake Third Corridor Built in 1951 at Derby. 'Porthole' design. Awaiting overhaul, stored.[13]
British Railways 1928 Mk1 Unclassed Restaurant Car BR Mk 1 RB 1928 at Aviemore.JPG Built in 1959 by BRCW. Previously used on Flying Scotsman train. Built with Gresley Bogies.[14]
British Railways 1936 Mk1 Unclassed Restaurant Car Built in 1959 by BRCW. Previously used on Flying Scotsman train. Built with Gresley Bogies. Under restoration.[15]
British Railways 4079 Mk1 Tourist Second Open Built in 1955 at Swindon. Not operational. Stored.
British Railways 4331 Mk1 Tourist Second Open Built in 1956 by BRCW. In BR Crimson and Cream livery. Operational[16]
British Railways 4477 Mk1 Second Open
Second open number 4477 at Aviemore station.
Built in 1957 by BRCW.[17] In BR Crimson and Cream livery. Operational.
British Railways 4777 Mk1 Second Open Built in 1957 by BRCW.[18]
London, Midland and Scottish Railway M45021M Bogie District Engineers Saloon
LMS Officers Saloon at Boat of Garten Station.
LMS Officers Saloon
Built in 1944 by LMS at Wolverton, lot 1262. LMS livery. Operational.
British Railways 17101 Mk 2A Brake Corridor First
Brake Corridor First number 17101 at Aviemore Station
Built in 1968 at Derby. Operational.



  1. ^ "Turning 61994 "The Great Marquess" on the Aviemore turntable". Retrieved 20 April 2021.
  2. ^ Gifford, John (1992). The Buildings of Scotland, Highland and Islands. Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-09625-9.
  3. ^ Historic Environment Scotland. "Boat of Garten Railway Station including former station master's house, north signal box, south signal box and footbridge (LB258)". Retrieved 7 March 2019.
  4. ^ "Go-ahead for Highland road move". BBC News. 7 July 2006. Retrieved 26 January 2009.
  5. ^ "Strathspey Steam Railway use crane for new bridge". BBC Scotland News. 14 February 2014.
  6. ^ "£1m shock for Strathspey Railway". The Railway Magazine. Vol. 154 no. 1, 292. December 2008. p. 11.
  7. ^ a b c d e Sinclair, Neil (1999). Strathspey Railway Guide Book. Aviemore: Strathspey Railway.
  8. ^ "GNSR 5 compt non-corridor Third (body only)". Vintage Carriages Trust. Archived from the original on 18 February 2019.
  9. ^ "GNSR 5-compt non-corridor Third (body only)". Vintage Carriages Trust. Archived from the original on 18 February 2019.
  10. ^ "Highland 5-compt non-corridor Third (body only)". Vintage Carriages Trust. Archived from the original on 18 February 2019.
  11. ^ "NBR 1748 Non-corridor Bogie Lavatory Third built 1905". Vintage Carriages Trust. Archived from the original on 18 February 2019.
  12. ^ "LMS 27234 Third Open built 1945". Vintage Carriages Trust. Archived from the original on 26 December 2015.
  13. ^ "LMS 27043 Brake Third Corridor ('Porthole' design) built 1951". Vintage Carriages Trust. Archived from the original on 18 February 2019.
  14. ^ "BR 1928 Mk 1 Unclassed Restaurant Car, ex-'Flying Scotsman' built 1959". Vintage Carriages Trust. Archived from the original on 18 February 2019.
  15. ^ "BR 1936 Mk 1 Unclassed Restaurant Car, ex-'Flying Scotsman' built 1959". Vintage Carriages Trust. Archived from the original on 18 February 2019.
  16. ^ "BR 4331 Mk 1 Tourist Second Open built 1956". Vintage Carriages Trust. Archived from the original on 18 February 2019.
  17. ^ "BR 4477 Mk 1 Second Open built 1957". Vintage Carriages Trust. Archived from the original on 18 February 2019.
  18. ^ "BR 4777 Mk 1 Tourist Second Open built 1957". Vintage Carriages Trust. Archived from the original on 18 February 2019.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 57°15′36″N 3°44′18″W / 57.26000°N 3.73833°W / 57.26000; -3.73833