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More Trains More Opportunities with fourth train from Caithness to Inverness

11 December 2006

Press Releases

More Trains, More Opportunities with fourth train from Caithness to Inverness

11 December 2006

Customers looking to travel from the far north of Scotland into the Highland capital, will have more opportunities to do so from today (Monday 11 December), with the introduction of a fourth train from Wick.

The new service, launched today with the start of First ScotRail's winter timetable, provides a convenient connection at Thurso for customers coming over on the morning ferry from Orkney and is the first ever all year fourth train.

Natalie Loughborough, First ScotRail's Customer Service Director was at Inverness Station to welcome in the first service on its arrival. She met with local MSP Jamie Stone, Frank Roach, Rail Development Manager at Highland Rail Partnership and other distinguished guests, who had travelled down on the train to mark the maiden voyage.

The new journey time of three and a half hours from Thurso to Inverness was announced as a record with it also now being possible to travel from Orkney to London in one day!

Since launching in December 2005, Invernet has seen a steady rise in the number of people travelling in and out of Inverness from the south and north. Service monitoring indicates a 29% growth in the number of passenger journeys on the Far North Line compared to the same period the year before.

The 11.44 Inverness to Tain service has been retimed and will now depart at 12.17 and travel to Invergordon. The benefit of the retiming allows customers travelling from Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen, to connect with the service going north, creating a more seamless overall journey.

Natalie Loughborough, Customer Service Director at First ScotRail said: "The provision of an additional service from Wick is certain to be well received, increasing the travel opportunities for customers living in the far north of Scotland.

"We are also really pleased with the number of people using the 'Invernet' services and hope to continue building on rail travel uptake in this area, through continued working relationships with industry partners."

Jamie Stone, MSP, said: "With more and more people in the Far North choosing to travel by rail it is good to see new investment in services and to see for myself the improvements that this will bring for local people. Passengers will give a warm welcome to this new service which will also see the journey time from Thurso to Inverness reduced to just three and a half hours.

"For the first time ever, this new service will also allow passengers from Orkney to travel by ferry and train to London in one day. This is a real breakthrough which will open up new travel options and opportunities for many people."

Ivor Jones, Transport Scotland's Franchise Manager, said: "Transport Scotland is delighted to be funding this new service through a five year investment package worth £2million. The new Inverness to Wick service is good news for far north passengers. It will improve access to leisure and business opportunities for communities, increase tourism opportunities and connect with ferry services."

Bob Sclater, said: "People travelling both out and into Orkney will certainly be very pleased to have this new rail service between Thurso and Inverness in place. The connection with NorthLink's early morning sailing to Scrabster will mean a seamless transfer between services resulting in a much improved experience for the travelling public and with the possible same day onward rail links to London resulting in an added bonus. This is what integrated transport is all about.

Frank Roach said, "The new train service is another step in the development of rail across the Highlands and Islands area, and helps us towards the regional aspiration of four trains per day on rural routes, while at the same time shrinking journey times."
ENDS
Media enquiries:
Lally Cowell, Press and Communications Executive on 0141 335 4788 / lally.cowell@firstgroup.com
Out of hours, call 07738 141 198 / www.firstscotrail.com