Just as the new tourist season commences, travelling north of Perth could be a real challenge for visitors to the Highlands this year! - It seems that from 11th April 2023 work commenced on the A9 north of Perth resulting in this road being restricted in both directions between the Inveralmond Roundabout and Luncarty (this work is scheduled to be in place until late August 2023), with tailbacks already spotted this month from Perth as far north as Bankfoot, and the summer season has only just begun. Our advice to all visitors is to plan ahead.
Scotrail’s bizarre summer timetable..
And if roadworks on the A9 wasn’t already bad enough, it seems that in their wisdom Scotrail have introduced a summer timetable on the once famous Highland Main Line between Perth and Inverness that provides less services than ever before at the same time!? – Which then raises two obvious questions: Why introduce these 2 major changes to transport in this part of Scotland at the very start of the summer/tourist season? And which idiot or idiots were responsible for planning and then approving this?
In addition, both these scenarios also have a massive negative impact on the environment, at a time when eco-friendly travel should be both encouraged and promoted, so to conduct major road works during the busiest time of the year causing traffic tailbacks, or in Scotrail’s case to introduce what amounts to nothing more than just a skeleton service on the rail network north of Perth is just too bizarre for words?
A few examples from the new Scotrail timetable between Perth and Inverness that commenced on 22nd May 2023: Earliest train north is 08:10am (but on a Sunday the earliest departure from Perth isn’t until 10:56am!).. while the last train north from Perth is just before 9pm (on a Sunday this one departs at 7:12pm), and also worth noting that on any Sunday there are actually only a total of 6 services!? - How does this encourage people to leave their vehicles at home and travel by train for a day out? Also, when you look closely at this Scotrail timetable there are even days when if you missed your last train of the day northwards then you will have a 12 to 14 hour wait for your next connection! - This is apparently public transport in 2023?
In fact, on Friday 19th May Scotrail ended up having to spend a small fortune on taxis when their last service of that day (was supposed to depart at 8:57pm) was cancelled, and then none of their customers were able to travel further North, as their next available train from Perth northwards wasn’t scheduled until 10am the next morning?! So will repeat the question; Who was responsible at Scotrail when planning the summer timetable for 2023?
As far as rail travel between Perth and Inverness in concerned, when you take a look at what is actually on offer, it requires a lot of improvements to get with the times! Because when you compare the timetable/services with other countries then it quickly becomes clear that as per 2023 they all have a much more efficient and environmentally friendly rail service.. and not just the obvious choices like France, Portugal or Holland (with their double decker electric trains in operation since the 1990's)… Check out a country like Hungary (the route between Budapest to Debrecen is about same distance as Perth to Inverness, where they have 13 services running each way on any given Sunday), or how about Cuba? Yes, Cuba! – well they can offer a total of ten services east of Havana on a Sunday (5 on the original 750km long railway line towards Santiago de Cuba, and another 5 services on their electric railway between Havana and Varadero). So putting it bluntly, in 2023 it seems that Cuba has a more efficient rail service than the Highland Main Line. So, well done to Cuba on their 'forward planning and delivery'.
In the meantime, to try and pursue active and eco-friendly travel, then I suppose more people should just get on their bikes! 😉
We do cycle tours, but sometimes when environmental issues are raised they are worth pursuing.. especially when they have any kind of impact on ecotourism (sustainable transport) or conserving the environment
To follow in Perth Train Station Part 2 - a brief history of Perth Train Station and the famous Highland Main Line (Perth up to Inverness), some info about the Perth born author and statesman John Buchan (‘The 39 Steps’, filmed several times, including a version by Hitchcock, and a forthcoming tv series with Benedict Cumberbatch) of which there is a bust/statue of John Buchan inside the station building, and then some fun facts about this train station which was first opened back in 1848, but was also nominated for an unwanted Carbuncle award as recently as 2015.. Perth Train Station is in fact 175 years old this year (2023) but Scotrail, or Perth Council, don't seem to even be aware of this milestone or anniversary?
In March 2016, Transport Scotland announced a package of timetable improvements for the Scottish rail network that would see additional trains operated from Perth to Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee & Inverness from 2018 onwards. But as of May 2023, and more than 7 years later, these improvements have still not taken place. I suppose they need to work on their 'planning and actual delivery dates'??
Eventually… (we suggest you ask Scotrail or your local council for regular updates?)... more people will hopefully be able to take their bikes on (more) trains, to then go and enjoy cycling around Highland Perthshire. At present there seems to be a distinct lack of forward planning, creativity or delivery in turning Perth Station or the Highland Main Line back into the important transport hub/route it once used to be?!
Photos; Scotrail logo on train (banner)… Perth Rail station (exterior)… example of bikes on trains (Berlin)
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Along with an update on Jumbo Visma and other Dutch cycling teams..
A history of Perth Station.. John Buchan (‘The 39 Steps’)..
A 50 mile bike ride down to Loch Leven, cycling in Perthshire, Kinross and Fife..