Kyle of Lochalsh Line

(Kyle of Lochalsh Branch)

The Kyle of Lochalsh Line is a railway which serves the northwest of Scotland, running from Dingwall, on the Cromarty Firth, to Kyle of Lochalsh on the west coast, opposite Skye. The track from Inverness to Dingwall is shared by services on the Far North Line. The line comprises a single track with passing loops and is currently operated by diesel multiple unit trains. It extends west to pass around the southwestern shore of Loch Garve and the north coast of Loch Luichart, extending along Strath Bran and then turning southwest through Glen Carron to reach Loch Carron. From here it follows the coast around to Kyle of Lochalsh, completing a total length of 63.8 miles (102.7 km). The section along the southern shore of Loch Carron, between Attadale and Stromeferry, is prone to avalanches in winter and there is an avalanche shelter here covering both the railway line and the adjacent road. This section also suffers from landslides; in 1939 a landslide here derailed a freight train.

The line was built in two phases; the Dingwall and Skye Railway opened in 1870 as a branch of the Inverness and Ross-shire Railway, which has comes into use eight years previously. Initially the line only went to Stromeferry (from where steamers docked from Skye and Lewis), but this was extended to Kyle of Lochalsh in 1897. A branch to Strathpeffer operated between 1885 and 1951. The line was taken over by the Highland Railway Company in 1880 and is sometimes still referred to as the Kyle of Lochalsh Branch of the Highland Railway. It was intended for closure following the Beeching Report of 1963, by was reprieved following a local campaign. A further attempt at closure a decade later was also unsuccessful and the line continues with more than 65,000 passengers reaching Kyle of Lochalsh annually (2016).

After Dingwall, the following stations are Garve, Lochluichart, Achanalt, Achnasheen, Achnashellach, Strathcarron, Attadale, Stromeferry, Duncraig, Plockton, Duirinish and finally Kyle of Lochalsh. Achanalt is the least busy station on the line, with only 312 passengers in 2015-16.

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