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12th February 2015

Highland MSP, Rhoda Grant who has spearheaded the campaign for improvements to the far north line is highlighting figures from the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) that have recorded a 6% fall in the usage of rail stations in Caithness in 2013-14. Meanwhile, figures from the ORR revealed that nationally across the UK rail journeys had risen by 5%.

Commenting on the figures Mrs Grant said,"I am disappointed to see a 6% drop in the usage of rail station in Caithness between 2013-14, however, I am not surprised. The information only verifies what hundreds of constituents have contacted telling me, that the service is too slow, unreliable and poor value for money for them to use.

“Compare these to the national figures which show rail travel is becoming more popular with a 5% increase in usage across the U.K. over the same period. First ScotRail refused to listen or act on the problems facing the far north line and the issues on the service that were turning customers away from rail and the figures from the Office of Rail Regulation back this up."

“Going forward I am seeking a meeting with the new ScotRail franchise operators Abellio who will take over from April to push for improvements and ask them to address the situation on the far north line and explain what they plan to do about the current spate of delays, cancellations and poor quality service along the line and importantly how they will boost usage numbers and encourage more people to choose rail over road.”

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