Page last updated at 09:44 GMT, Wednesday, 8 October 2008 10:44 UK

Strike response sparks rail fears

Inverness Railway Station
The far north line runs from Inverness to Wick and Thurso

A senior councillor fears the future of railway services in the far north of Scotland could be harmed by the response to a strike by signal workers.

A limited timetable was operating in the central belt during the walkout.

But no trains were running north of Perth because of the larger number of smaller signal boxes to cover.

Caithness councillor David Flear warned it could lead to a belief that the far north did not require a railway service at all.

Level crossings

Mr Flear said: "If suddenly you can take it out for a couple of days, then somebody may assess the situation and say can you take it out for longer? Do you really need it, as there is alterative transport that can be put on?"

The line from Inverness to Wick and Thurso is the subject of a campaign to raise speeds and improve signalling.

Responding to Network Rail's route utilisation strategies consultation, Friends of the Far North Line (FoFNL) said the line was too slow and new UK standard safety measures had made it significantly slower in the last two years.

FoFNL has recommended that the reinstatement of double tracks and upgrading level crossings is made a priority.

Figures on station usage compiled by the Office of Rail Regulation for 2006/07 suggested a growth in the use of stations like Alness, Dingwall and Helmsdale, but declines at Thurso and Kinbrace.


SEE ALSO
Talks to avert second rail strike
07 Oct 08 |  Scotland
Scotland hit by rail staff strike
07 Oct 08 |  Scotland
Rail strike on after talks fail
06 Oct 08 |  Scotland
Railway workers vote for strikes
11 Sep 08 |  England

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