Staycationing is good news for Scotland’s Highland railways. The post-pandemic holiday trend has boosted leisure passenger numbers and meant the region’s lines have emerged largely unscathed in proposals put forward by ScotRail for a timetable reduction next May compared to pre-Covid levels (p16, last month); the trains facing the axe are mainly services on those commuter routes in the lowlands that have seen a big reduction in demand.
One change that will affect the Highlands is the proposal to route Inverness to Edinburgh trains via Stirling instead of via Ladybank.
The station layout at Stirling will make interchange easier than at Perth, with onward travel to Glasgow on electric suburban services. The change is also expected to result in performance benefits as it will avoid the singletrack section from Hilton Junction (south of Perth) to Ladybank in favour of double track all the way.
The Highland main line will benefit from the decision to defer the introduction of the revised East Coast timetable to May 2023 or beyond (p28, September issue).