Further ‘request stop’ kiosks installed on Highland rail lines

Network Rail

THE next phase of Network Rail’s roll-out of ‘request stop’ kiosks on its Far North Line in the Scottish Highlands is set to go live.

The move comes after engineers completed works to install the kiosks at Kinbrace, Kildonan, Rogart, Invershin, and Culrain following a successful 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 initiative is part of a broader £5 million package of investment in the line’s radio signalling system.

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 are 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.

Network Rail said 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.

Scotscalder was the pilot station for the system, monitored by Network Rail 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 system prior to it being rolled-out at other locations.

As well as the installation of the request-stop kiosks, Network Rail revealed it has also upgraded existing radio communication masts and antennas and installed new equipment at Muir of Ord, Invergordon, Kildonan, and Wick stations to enhance radio coverage.

The rail organisation said 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.”