A hydrogen-fuelled train to be showcased at the upcoming Cop26 climate conference could soon be trialled in Caithness, if a bid by a rail pressure group succeeds.
Friends of the Far North Line (FoFNL) wants the train to help prepare the line for the green revolution which the rail industry is to undergo.
Hydrogen transport specialists Arcola have been fitting out the converted electric Class 314 unit to showcase the technology to conference delegates on the Bo’ness to Kinneil heritage line in the Central Belt.
FoFNL spokesman Mike Lunan said: “We are very much hoping that after the conference, the vehicle will be taken up and used to trial the technology between Thurso and Wick.”
Mr Lunan said that the initial runs would not have passengers.
But after safety tests, he envisages follow-up trials where people are carried on scheduled shuttles between the two towns.
He said: “It’s not in anybody’s schedule yet but that is what we are pushing for.
“An operator would have to be identified and Scotrail would have to find space in the timetables.”
Could electric trains be trialed too?
A business case for a trial has been worked up after it attracted the interest of green-friendly train maker Vivarail.
It believes there is potential to use one of its Class 230 battery trains on an inter-town shuttle service.
With a range of 60 miles, it could make three runs before it needed to recharge.
Mr Lunan believes that this would prove the best bet for short branch lines, with hydrogen trains more suited to the line between Inverness and Caithness.