Further request-stop kiosks added on Far North Line

The next phase of the roll-out of request-stop kiosk on the Far North Line in the Scottish Highlands will go live at five locations from Tuesday December 20.

The kiosks at Kinbrace, Kildonan, Rogart, Invershin and Culrain follow the successful trial installation at Scotscalder earlier in the year.

The system allows passengers to access the next planned service electronically and eliminate the need to hand-signal the driver to stop the train.

The roll-out is part of a broader £5m package of investment in the line's radio signalling system, with stations on the Far North Line benefiting from the addition of the request-stop kiosks on platforms.

Kiosks at Altnabreac and Dunrobin Castle will complete the programme and be activated early in 2023 to bring the total to eight.

Due to their geographical remoteness, patronage at these stations is amongst the lowest in the UK and consequently they operate on a ‘request to stop’ basis – currently requiring the need 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 to send a message to the driver’s cab.

Passengers onboard wishing to leave the train at these stations will continue to speak to the guard / conductor as at 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 stations to enhance radio coverage.

This has improved the reliability and resilience of the communications network across the route to improve overall passenger experience for those travelling on the Far North Line.

Cara Healy, Network Rail’s development manager for the work on 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 the overall passenger experience for those travelling on the railway.

“This new system makes it easier to use some of the most remote stations on our network and hopefully help 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 of the need to stop in the station, 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.”