14/03/2013 - Drivers switch to rail during Kessock Bridge works
ScotRail today revealed figures showing a major increase in passengers using stations north of Inverness during the first month of the £18million Kessock Bridge refurbishment programme.
Total journeys to and from Dingwall and Muir of Ord stations are up by 22 per cent since the start of the roadworks, which have temporarily halved the number of traffic lanes on the bridge from four to two.
Meanwhile more than 2,000 journeys have been made to or from the new
£600,000 station at Conon Bridge. Its opening on 8 February marked the return of rail services to the town after more than five decades.
ScotRail managing director Steve Montgomery welcomed the figures.
He said: “It is pleasing that so many drivers are making the switch to rail during the Kessock Bridge roadworks – and to see Conon Bridge station receiving such a good reception from local people in its first month since opening.”
Transport Minister Keith Brown said: “I was delighted to officially open the Conon Bridge station last month and these passenger numbers show that it was an extremely worthwhile investment.
“The Scottish Government has a commitment to public transport and to doing all we can to encourage more people out of their cars and on to more sustainable and environmentally friendly ways of travelling and this is clearly working well in the Highlands.”
Cllr John Semple, Chair of HITRANS, said: “HITRANS is delighted to see the switch from road to rail, and the numbers using the new, low-cost station at Conon Bridge demonstrate that if you take the railway to the community, the community takes to the railway.”
Drew Hendry, Leader of The Highland Council, said: “Estimates show that there are 1,000 less cars per hour at peak times using the Kessock Bridge, so it seems obvious the new train services north of Inverness are playing a key role in helping commuters get to and from work and I am delighted the new station at Conon Bridge has proved to be so popular.”
ScotRail is providing extra carriages on key peak-time Inverness services during the roadworks.
It has also installed spaces for a dozen extra spaces for customers to store bicycles at Inverness station – bringing the total number of spaces there to more than 50.
Transport Scotland is upgrading Kessock Bridge to bring it in line with modern traffic standard requirements.
The first phase of the resurfacing work will last until June 2013, with a second phase next year, commencing February 2014 and lasting until June 2014.