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Five new train request-stop kiosks installed on Far North Line

By Iona M.J. MacDonald

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Scotscalder request-stop kiosk.
Scotscalder request-stop kiosk.

The next phase of the roll out of request–stop kiosks on the Far North Line has launched.

The new kiosks launched at Kinbrace, Kildonan, Rogart, Invershin and Culrain, follow the successful trial kiosk installation at Scotscalder earlier this year.

The system allows passengers to access the next planned service electronically, without needing to hand-signal the driver to stop the train.

Due to the geographical remoteness, passengers at these stations is amongst the lowest in the UK, meaning the trains operate on a ‘request to stop’ basis, currently requiring people to hand signal approaching trains to stop.

The new kiosks will enhance the current operation of the railway by allowing passengers to request an approaching train to stop at the station with just the push of a button, using a radio system which sends a message to the driver’s cab.

The roll out is part of a broader £5m investment in the line's radio signalling system.Installation of kiosks at Altnabreac and Dunrobin Castle will complete the roll out programme, and will be activated early in 2023.

Passengers on board wishing to leave the train at these stations will still have to speak to the guard or conductor, as of present.

Scotscalder was the pilot station for the system and following installation, it was monitored to ensure safety and reliability. During its trial, information was available on platforms to highlight the change to passengers and a period of dual running was used to test the enhanced system prior to it being rolled out at the other locations.

As well as the installation of the request-stop kiosks, Network Rail has upgraded existing radio communication masts and antennas and installed new equipment at Muir of Ord, Invergordon, Kildonan and Wick train stations, to enhance radio coverage.

Cara Healy, development manager for the Far North Line, said: “Enhancing the radio network will make the experience of using request–stop stations more straight forward for local people, and for the increasing number of tourists visiting the area.

“Following the successful trial period at Scotscalder, the system is now ready to be rolled out at a further five locations to improve performance and overall passenger experience on the railway.

“This new system makes it easier to use some of the most remote stations on our network and encourage more people to travel into the Highlands to walk, climb, cycle, and sightsee.”

David Simpson, ScotRail service delivery director, said: “I’m delighted to see more request–stop kiosks being introduced on Scotland’s railway.

“By enabling the driver to be alerted in advance, rather than being reliant on hand–signalling, it delivers a safer and more reliable system, and means that trains don’t need to slow down at stations where there are no passengers waiting.

“The new request–stop kiosks will help improve our customers’ experience as well as our train performance. It’s a really positive step for the operation of the Far North Line.”

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