THE Scottish Government has invested £1.7 million to improve train capacity on the iconic West Highland Line.

Network Rail will be extending platforms at several stations on the line, widely considered one of the most scenic in the UK, which goes north from Glasgow to Mallaig and Oban.

Eight stations will benefit from the cash. The project will get underway from January 27 at Arrochar and Tarbet, with plans to finish delivering improvements at all stations by the end of the summer.

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The stations set to get platform extensions are:

  • Helensburgh
  • Upper Ardlui
  • Roy Bridge
  • Garelochhead
  • Arrochar and Tarbet
  • Crianlarich
  • Bridge of Orchy
  • Tulloch

The decision to extend platforms is partly due to an increase in passenger demand, as Network Rail said almost 500,000 journeys took place on the West Highland Line between April and December last year, an increase of approximately 29% when compared to the same period in 2022.

Additional platform length will enable the introduction of more Highland Explorer carriages, which can accommodate up to 20 bikes and bulky sports gear, to Oban and Fort William.

As well as the increased seating capacity and luggage space, there will be an extra toilet and space for a catering trolley.

Responding to the announcement, John Collins, Network Rail’s sponsor for the project said: “The West Highland Line is considered by many to be one of the world’s most scenic railway journeys, so it is no surprise that demand for leisure travel on the line is high.

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“Add to this the number of people accessing the area to walk and cycle and it is clear that demand is outstripping capacity on services on the line - with the only answer being to add carriages to the existing services.

“To enable the longer trains to run, we need to lengthen the platforms at stations across the route and this will ultimately help to deliver more seats and more bike spaces on trains. This will create a better passenger experience for people wishing to enjoy some of the best of what Scotland has to offer.”

Scott Prentice, ScotRail strategy and planning director, added: “We know how popular the West Highland Line is with our customers, and it continues to attract visitors from all over the world.

“The work being carried out by our colleagues at Network Rail is a fantastic step forward and will allow us to make changes to the trains that operate on the route.

“We are currently looking at all of the available options to add extra carriages throughout the day and we will confirm those changes as soon as possible.”