The long shadow of Dr Beeching’s axe will continue to hang over an Easter Ross railway halt for the foreseeable future – but the fight to have it re-opened will continue.
Disappointed Evanton residents learned yesterday that a bid for funding to start the ball rolling to reopen their station had been unsuccessful.
Working with Highland Council, Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership (HiTRANS) submitted the bid for £25,000, offering £10,000 of match funding, to Transport Scotland’s £2 million Local Rail Development Fund.
At present 16 trains pass through Evanton each day, with the proposal being that the village should become a request halt using modern technology to inform the driver.
Council official Richard Gerring broke the news yesterday to members of the council’s Ross & Cromarty committee.
He said: “Out of 35 applications, ten got funding, but Evanton didn’t.
“However not all of the £2m has been awarded, so there are more opportunities to submit a further application, and this will be raised at a HiTrans meeting next week.”
Committee chairwoman councillor Fiona Robertson said: “We have a good economic and environmental case. This decision is a blow but we are supportive and want to see this project happen.”
Councillor Mike Finlayson said: “We knew it wouldn’t happen overnight, and we’re disappointed but we keep going onward. We’ve put a good case forward.”
Last year a local survey with 800 returns revealed that 72% of respondents said they would be very likely to use the rail service from their village. Almost 80% said the station would reduce road congestion.
Evanton residents expressed their disappointment yesterday.
At the Cornerstone Café, worker Fiona Munro said: “It’s disappointing. A lot of people said they would use it for work or shopping in Inverness. They had been wanting it for some time.”
Resident George Glaister raised a petition to have the station reopened two years ago.
He said: “Reopening the station was a central part of a 180 house planning application submitted in that area. That application has been granted now, so where’s the station?”
A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “We fully understand those who missed out on this round of funding will be disappointed and so we would urge unsuccessful applicants to contact us for feedback on their submission.
“Timescales for the next round of funding will be announced in the coming weeks.”
Evanton station opened in 1863, and closed to passengers 100 years later. It was first proposed for re-opening in 2013.