The Highland Council has warmly welcomed today’s opening of Conon Bridge railway station and the return of rail services to the community more than five decades after the original station closed.
The £600,000 refurbishment has been delivered on-time and to budget. Built by Network Rail, the station includes a new 15 metre platform, a waiting shelter, passenger information systems and cycle racks and lockers. The Highland Council has simultaneously delivered a new car park and enhanced the road access and street lighting at the station.
Funded by Transport Scotland, HITRANS and The Highland Council, the facility – located between Muir of Ord and Dingwall on the Far North line – will be operated by ScotRail.
Council Leader Drew Hendry was joined by Dingwall and Seaforth Ward Members, Angela MacLean, Alister Mackinnon and Margaret Paterson at the opening ceremony.
Councillor Hendry said: “ “This is great news not just for the local community but the benefits will spread wider to the whole Highlands. Recently we have seen a big increase in passengers commuting by rail into Inverness so the re-opening of Conon Station will provide even more opportunities for people to make the switch from car to rail travel.”
The Highland Council has contributed £100,000 towards the costs of the re-opening and a further £100,000 to the cost of upgrading the car park.
Transport Minister Keith Brown said in opening the railway station: "Improving access to rail services is an important factor in encouraging people to use the train and I am delighted to be here today to launch a brand new station for the people of Conon Bridge.
"Instead of travelling to Dingwall, locals can now access trains into Inverness and beyond right here on their doorstep. This will be particularly beneficial during the major upgrade to the Kessock Bridge in coming months and I hope people will take advantage of this as an alternative to driving into Inverness during these works."
David Simpson, Network Rail route managing director for Scotland, added: “The delivery of the new station on-time, within budget and to such a tight timescale shows what can be achieved when organisations work together to deliver for passengers.
“The reopening of Conon Bridge has been a real team effort by the rail industry and local and central government, which will bring significant benefits for the people of Conon Bridge.”
Steve Montgomery, managing director of ScotRail said: “This is a landmark day for the people of Conon Bridge who are once again, linked to the Scottish rail network.
“Having a station will make a big difference for local people and visitors alike, by providing a real alternative to the car. The more we can encourage people to travel by train the better it is for the environment.”
The new facility has been delivered in just four months, with main construction work beginning on site in November 2012.
It will be served by 13 trains per day to Inverness Monday to Saturday and 11 northbound services Monday to Thursday, with an additional late-night service on Friday and Saturday. Full timetable and journey details are available at www.scotrail.co.uk.
The station further enhances the accessibility of rail in the Highlands and will also help provide alternative travel options during the ongoing essential Kessock Bridge refurbishment.
Transport Scotland is investing £18m to upgrade Kessock Bridge, bringing it in line with modern traffic standard requirements.
The first phase of the resurfacing work has now commenced and will last until June 2013, with a second phase the following year, commencing February 2014 and lasting until June 2014.
Motorists driving in and around Inverness during the works can access up to the minute journey time information at www.trafficscotland.org. Further journey planning information is also available on Twitter and via the Travelline Scotland/Transport Scotland travel app.