Orkney MSP Liam McArthur has encouraged Scottish Ministers to look seriously at investment in the rail network north of Inverness.
Mr McArthur made the case to Transport Minister, Derek Mackay, during General Questions in parliament earlier today.
In response, Mr Mackay agreed to discuss the matter with Network Rail and consider what opportunities exist for improving rail infrastructure in the far north. He made clear, however, that this would be done in the context of competing demands for available budget.
Commenting on the issue, Mr McArthur said:
“While undoubtedly picturesque, train journeys north of Inverness are increasingly struggling to meet the needs of the travelling public. More investment is needed on this part of the network if we to encourage more passengers and freight to use the service.
“I am particularly concerned that a chance to move more freight traffic off the A9 and onto rail is being missed due to the limitations of the current line. Even a modest amount of twin tracking could open up real opportunities which would benefit business, road users and communities, including many here in Orkney.
“I understand that there will always be competing demands for rail investment. Nevertheless, the case for improving the network north of Inverness is strong and too often in the past it has been overlooked. Hopefully, the Transport Minister and Network Rail will now be able to set out plans and a timeframe for delivering the upgrade that is so clearly needed”.