Kyle of Lochalsh Line

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Kyle of Lochalsh Line
The train to Kyle of Lochalsh - - 467835.jpg
SystemNational Rail
TerminiKyle of Lochalsh
OwnerNetwork Rail
Operator(s)First ScotRail
Rolling stockClass 158
Track gaugeStandard gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
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Kyle of Lochalsh Line
The train to Kyle of Lochalsh - - 467835.jpg
SystemNational Rail
TerminiKyle of Lochalsh
OwnerNetwork Rail
Operator(s)First ScotRail
Rolling stockClass 158
Track gaugeStandard gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
Kyle of Lochalsh Line
Kyle of Lochalsh
Far North Line
Conon Bridge
Muir of Ord
River Ness
Rose Street Junction
Welsh's Bridge Junction
Millburn Junction
Highland Main Line
Aberdeen to Inverness Line

The Kyle of Lochalsh Line is a primarily single track railway line in the Scottish Highlands, running from Dingwall to Kyle of Lochalsh. The route is sparsely populated, but the scenery is beautiful and can be quite dramatic, the Kyle line having been likened[by whom?] to a symphony in three parts: pastoral, mountain and sea. Many of the passengers on the trains are tourists but one can also expect to meet locals visiting Inverness for shopping, and commuters. All services are provided by First ScotRail and run to Inverness. To maintain the passenger link beyond Inverness, one daily train runs through to Elgin (in the current 2013-14 timetable) having in the past come from Glasgow, Edinburgh or Aberdeen.[1] The line has some sections of double track north of Dingwall and all trains are diesel-powered, since none of the line is electrified.


The route was built in three sections:

Latterly the Strathpeffer Branch operated between 1885 and 1951.

In the 1960s the line was listed to be closed under the Reshaping of British Railways report, however it was reprieved and services continued.

In 1989 the bridge over the River Ness at Inverness was washed away, leaving both it and the Far North Line stranded, but new "Sprinter" trains were brought over by road, and a temporary yard was built to service them at Muir of Ord. The section of line along Loch Carron is particularly troublesome and prone to landslides, often closing that section.

Whilst undeniably a rural line, a historic term in the Act of Parliament for the railways here and around Inverness means that one through service per day is operated over the line towards Aberdeen (see above), whereas all other services start and finish at Inverness.[citation needed]


ScotRail Class 158 units at Strathcarron

From 1999 onwards, the then ScotRail owner, National Express, began the removal of the Class 156 "Sprinter" trains. Their replacement was to be the faster, higher standard Class 158. These trains offered a better all round travelling experience, with air conditioning, improved speed, lighting, seating, storage and general comfort. There is now a dedicated fleet of Class 158 units based at Inverness serving the Kyle of Lochalsh line, the Far North Line to Wick and Thurso, and the Aberdeen to Inverness Line. The current franchise owner First ScotRail has continued the current situation, with improvement to the depot facilities at Inverness.



During the winter months there are three, generally 2 car services, per day in each direction, with no Sunday services. During summer months, Monday to Saturday services increase to four in both directions, mostly running as 4 cars, with two services in each direction on a Sunday.

From December 2008[edit]

As of December 2008 service enhancements have meant the introduction of four daily trains all year round, Monday - Saturday.

TimetableMon - FriSaturdaySunday

Onward transport interchanges[edit]

InterchangeStop ID SMS CodeConnectionsService Numbers
Dingwall45323484Connections to Strathpeffer and the north of the Black IsleS10, 21
Garve45324737 (East)
45324754 (West)
Scottish Citylink coach services to Ullapool (for ferry services to Stornoway on Lewis)61[2]
Achnasheen45327657Highland Council bus links westward to Gairloch700, 708
Strathcarron45328548Highland Council bus connections onwards to the villages of Lochcarron, Kishorn, Shieldaig, Torridon and Applecross702, 703, 704
Kyle of Lochalsh45323763Scottish Citylink coaches westward to Skye, Portree and Uig (for ferry services to Tarbert on Harris),
eastwards to Kintail and Fort William
915, 916, 917[2]


A Class 158 at Kyle of Lochalsh having arrived from Inverness. The Isle of Skye can be seen across the water.
The view from Duirinish. Skye can be seen in the background with a covering of snow.

The stations on the line that have passing loops are Muir of Ord, Dingwall, Garve, Achnasheen and Strathcarron.

Only Dingwall and Kyle stations are staffed, however all stations along the route have lighting and passenger information posters with train timetable details. Most have passenger information telephone points fitted so that remote customer service staff can be contacted. Normal office hours apply.

Places servedNo. of PlatformsStaffedOrdnance Survey
grid references
Kyle of LochalshTwoYesNG762271

Kyle of Lochalsh Line in film and books[edit]

The Kyle of Lochalsh Line was featured in Eddie McConnell's lyrical documentary The Line to Skye (1973) with commentary by Scottish writer William McIlvanney, commissioned as part of Ross & Cromarty's campaign to keep the line open at a time when it was threatened with closure. The film follows the train from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh, describing the communities, landscape and wildlife along its route, while contrasting the frustration of motorists with the relaxation of the journey by rail.[3]

In Stephen Durrell's 1939 documentary West of Inverness, the importance of the Kyle of Lochalsh line to the crofters of the West Highlands is demonstrated through its role of transporting passengers, mail, parcels, food and livestock to and from their communities. The film shows the LMS steam locomotives that operated the line at this time.[4]

In the episode of Great Railway Journeys of the World "Confessions of a Trainspotter" (1980), Michael Palin travels from London to the Kyle of Lochalsh and returns with the railway station's sign.

Video 125 Ltd. produced a driver's eye view documentary of the line in 1987, when the service was still operated using loco-hauled trains, in this case motive power being provided by Class 37 no. 37262 named "Dounreay" after the nuclear power station. Narration was by Paul Coia.

Nicholas Whittaker travelled the line both ways during the summer of 1973, an experience he wrote about in his 1995 book Platform Souls. [5]


  1. ^ GB National Rail Timetable 2013-14, Tables 239 & 240 (Network Rail)
  2. ^ a b "Scottish Citylink Timetables". Retrieved 2013-01-25. 
  3. ^ "Scottish Screen Archive - Full record for 'LINE TO SKYE, the'". Retrieved 2009-02-07. 
  4. ^ "Scottish Screen Archive - Full record for 'WEST OF INVERNESS'". Retrieved 2009-02-07. 
  5. ^ Platform Souls. Nicholas Whittaker, Gollancz, 1995

External links[edit]