The West Highland Lines

Before the infestation of the Sprinters

Not so long ago most non urban passenger train services in Scotland were provided by locomotives often hauling five or more MK. 1 and Mk. 2 main line standard passenger coaches. Today services are usually provided by a single Class 156 diesel multiple unit of two cars but fitted with high density closely spaced commuter style seating, often of unidirectional format and not unlike that experienced on aeroplanes. As a certain entrepreneur stated " It is my intention to make travel by rail an experience similar to travelling by air". Unfortunately he succeeded.

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Back in the 1970's Oban had quite a substantial station provided with all the usual facilities expected. Capacity has now been substantially contracted, the overall canopy removed and the land sold off for other uses. Facilities extend to not even having a toilet for the passengers. What sort of welcome to Oban does that give tourists? However in this image we see the original station and a six coach passenger train, including two vans, ready to depart for Glasgow. October 1975.
Now on to Fort William as a train approaches its destination from Glasgow behind a Class 27 and seven Mk.1 carriages. October 1975.
A general view of Oban station showing the once significant track layout. April 1977.
A general view of Oban station. Looking like a railway roundhouse at the top of the hill, it has no railway connection, it is McCaig's Tower. April 1977.
After the demise of the NB2 Class 29 locomotives, the mainstay of power passed to the Class 27. Here we see 27043 backing onto a service for Glasgow. April 1977.
At this time Oban boasted a fully functioning scissor or double crossover for loco release and run round movements. April 1977.
Inside the now demolished train shed at Oban we see a Glasgow bound train being prepared for departure. The staff are washing the carriage windows for the benefit of passengers on the scenic journey south. They will be some time with this as there are six passenger carriages in the consist. Today all you get is a single two car Class 156 unit. April 1977.
We are now on a day out from Glasgow Queen Street to Mallaig via Fort William. We are paused at Corrour to allow a southbound freight to pass. July 1980.
Most trains were hauled by Class 27's at this time so it was a surprise to see a Class 37 on this line. July 1980.
Having reached our final destination at Mallaig after a reversal of direction at Fort William the Class 25 was uncoupled and ran around the carriages ready for the return journey. Class 25's were not that common on the West Highland Line. July 1980.
Having been attached to the other end of the train we are ready to return south. This was a regular service train, not a charter but look at the length of the consist. This would horrify the bean counters at First ScotRail today. July 1980.
The passengers are adequately provided with accommodation on this journey. The Class 25 is earning its keep today. July 1980.
We are now approaching Glenfinnan Station. July 1980.
It would appear the the train we have come from Mallaig on has now been split into a more regular length. The Class 25 is now ready to depart. July 1980.
There seemed to be quite a considerable amount of freight traffic on the line today. July 1980.
Awaiting our turn to proceed south a northbound freight of oil tankers arrives at Crianlarich. July 1980.
At this time there were two crew on the locomotives and the second man prepares to exchange the single line token. July 1980.
The next passing place is Ardlui and as evening sets in a northbound train approaches. July 1980.
The days of the Class 27's are over and now West Highland services are in the charge of the Class 37's. This is Maryhill Junction. The junction for the line to Anniesland was completely removed only to be reinstated when services to Maryhill were extended to Anniesland. However at Anniesland the rail connection between this line and the North Bank electric line was not reinstated until 2016. July 1982.
Not all of the journey on a West Highland service is in magnificent scenery. This Glasgow bound train is passing what remains of Maryhill Junction signal box after it received the attention of some arsonists. July 1982.
This West Highland bound service is passing the site of what was Maryhill Station. However miracles do happen and once again Maryhill Station resides here. The bus on Maryhill Road is still in the service of Glasgow Corporation. July 1982.
Looking westward from the road overbridge on Maryhill Road a Glasgow bound service passes what was once the site of Maryhill Station. The station was eliminated as may be seen here but it has since been reinstated for services from Glasgow Queen Street Upper to originally Maryhill and now to Anniesland. July 1982.
This service is just about to leave the West Highland line at Craigendoran. May 1985.
A single Class 104 unit received this special paint job and gained the unofficial moniker of "Mexican Bean". It was used as a rolling advertisement for Scotland and especially the West Highland Line. The insignia states "Scotland's for Me" The unit is seen resting between turns at Glasgow Queen Street Station. August 1985.
Scotland might be for me but Scotland was not for keeping the "Mexican Bean" rolling. It is now seen unceremoniously dumped on the scrap line at Falkland Junction. September 1990.
As already mentioned, some of the scenery viewed from West Highland Line services is not that impressive. This service to Glasgow is passing the site of Possilpark Station. Now in the hands of the Sprinters, ScotRail and Strathclyde Transport units were often mixed on West Highland services. Check the buildings in the background. They may look as if they have the attention of the Luftwaffe but the perpetrators were much closer to home than that. August 1994.
For earlier scenes on the West Highland Line see the North British Type 2 Class 21 & 29 page.