£1.7m station platform project to increase capacity on iconic West Highland Line: Ardlui Pltform

Thursday 25 Jan 2024

£1.7m station platform project to increase capacity on iconic West Highland Line

Region & Route:
Scotland’s Railway: Scotland

Network Rail will shortly begin work to extend platforms at eight stations on the West Highland Line.

Helensburgh Upper, Ardlui, Roy Bridge, Garelochhead, Arrochar and Tarbet, Crianlarich, Bridge of Orchy and Tulloch stations will all benefit from the £1.7m investment on the route.

Funded by the Scottish Government, the project will get underway at Arrochar & Tarbet from January 27 - with plans to deliver the improvements at all of the stations by the summer.

It will enable the introduction of longer trains in response to increasing volumes of leisure travel and higher demand for bike spaces.

Those travelling on the line to Oban, Fort William and Mallaig will have more seats to choose from, as well as increased space for luggage and large items such as bikes, rucksacks and sports equipment.

This will help travellers make the most of the fantastic outdoor opportunities available on the route, including those walking the West Highland Way, accessing the wilderness of Rannoch Moor or visiting the world-famous Glenfinnan viaduct.

John Collins, Network Rail’s sponsor for the project said, “The West Highland Line is considered by many to be one of the world’s most scenic railway journeys so it is no surprise that demand for leisure travel on the line is high.

“Add to this the number of people accessing the area to walk and cycle and it is clear that demand is outstripping capacity on services on the line - with the only answer being to add carriages to the existing services.

“To enable the longer trains to run, we need to lengthen the platforms at stations across the route and this will ultimately help to deliver more seats and more bike spaces on trains. This will create a better passenger experience for people wishing to enjoy some of the best of what Scotland has to offer.”

Scott Prentice, ScotRail strategy and planning director, said: “We know how popular the West Highland Line is with our customers, and it continues to attract visitors from all over the world.

“The work being carried out by our colleagues at Network Rail is a fantastic step forward and will allow us to make changes to the trains that operate on the route.

“We are currently looking at all of the available options to add extra carriages throughout the day and we will confirm those changes as soon as possible.”

Passenger demand on the West Highland Line saw almost 500k journeys in the April to December 2023 period – growth of approximately 29% when compared to the same period in 2022.

Additional platform length will enable the introduction of more Highland Explorer carriages, which can accommodate up to 20 bikes and bulky sports gear, to Oban and Fort William.

As well as the increased seating capacity and luggage space, there will be an extra toilet and space for a catering trolley to significantly improve the customer experience on the busiest journeys.

Proposals will see either a single extension of up to 15m at one end of the platform or extensions of up to 7.5m at each end - depending on land availability or physical constraints. Additional work includes the erection of safety gates, barriers and access stairs where required.

With four of the stations designated as ‘Listed Buildings’, care has been taken to design the work and utilise materials which will integrate with the existing structures. Listed Building’s Consent applications have been submitted to acquire the permissions needed to carry out the work.

Notes to Editors

The proposed work on the West Highland Line would see the extension of platforms at 8 stations

  • Helensburgh Upper
  • Garelochhead
  • Arrochar and Tarbet
  • Ardlui
  • Crianlarich
  • Bridge of Orchy
  • Tulloch 
  • Roy Bridge

4 of the stations are listed buildings - Ardlui, Bridge of Orchy, Crianlarich and Garelochead.  Applications have been submitted for Listed Buildings Consent where required.

The jobs involve either a single extension of up to 15m at one end of the platform or extensions of up to 7.5m at each end, as land availability and/or constraints dictate.

Site-specific delivery plans will be developed for each station with lineside communities being notified in advance of the work.

Where appropriate, work at the relevant stations is subject to achieving Listed Buildings Consent.

The Highland Explorer carriage offers cushioned seats, USB and plug charging points. They also feature table maps detailing the route, with recommendations on where to walk, cycle, and visit. These carriages allow additional space for luggage and cycles but offer 24 seats instead of the 70-seat standard carriage. 

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Eddie Harbinson
Media Manager
Network Rail

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