Voted the world’s greatest rail journey – outranking both the Orient Express and the Eurostar – for the second year running last month, Scotland’s West Highland Line is renowned for its breathtaking scenery including the famous 21-arch Glenfinnan viaduct featured in the Harry Potter film series.
Network Rail, the owner-operator of Britain’s rail infrastructure, can only undertake de-vegetation work when it is essential to the safe running of the railway. The result has been loss of views along much of the length of the railway through Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, particularly in summer when the trees and shrubs are in full leaf.
As part of the National Park Authority’s ongoing commitment to preserving the area’s natural heritage and enhancing visitor experience, it has been working alongside the Friends of the West Highland Line and Network Rail to identify sites along the route of the railway where maximum benefit could be achieved through vegetation clearance.
An application was submitted to the National Park’s Natural Heritage Grant Scheme to fund clearance of scrub and natural regeneration over a 350m stretch of railway at Tarbet, to maximise views of Loch Long, the Arrochar Alps and Ben Lomond.
Work got underway in February with the National Park’s Natural Heritage Grant agreeing to fund 85% of the project and Network Rail covering the remaining costs.
Taking just 5 days and costing just £9k to complete, it is hoped that similar work will take place in other sections along the track to restore views along this iconic route from Glasgow through to Oban, Fort William and Mallaig.
Norman McNab from the Friends of the West Highland Line said “This is a great result and the successful outcome could not have been achieved without the support of the National Park, the considerable help of their professional staff and, crucially, the positive co-operation and contribution from Network Rail.”