West Highland Line

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The West Highland Line (Scottish Gaelic: Rathad Iarainn nan Eilean - "Iron Road to the Isles") is one of the most scenic railway lines in Britain and it links the fishing ports of Mallaig and Oban to Glasgow. Services on the line are operated by ScotRail.

Route

Starting from Glasgow Queen Street trains run as far as Cowlairs Junction where they diverge from the E & G main line. Trains then run through the suburbs of Glasgow to reach Maryhill and diverge from the Anniesland line just after Maryhill to join the North Clyde route at Westerton. Trains then run on the North Clyde line as far as Craigendoran Junction where trains branch off to serve Helensburgh Upper and after Helensburgh Upper emerging to run alongside the shores of Loch Lomond. The line continues to Crianlarich where the line to Oban diverges.

The Fort William line continues Northwards and faces some steep gradients to reach Tyndrum Upper. After Tyndrum Upper the line serves Bridge of Orchy before road and rail split and the railway follows a circuitous route to reach Fort William, the line then crosses Rannoch Moor before reaching Rannoch Station. After Rannoch the line continues across the Moor to the small rural station at Corrour used mainly by hikers. It has no road access so people have to rely on the train. After Corrour the line passes Loch Treig and then turns Westwards towards Tulloch. The line then passes Monessie Falls and then runs into Fort William.

After a reverse the line continues over Banavie swing bridge and runs alongside Loch Eil to reach Glenfinnan. Before arriving at Glenfinnan the line passes over a magnificent viaduct. Reaching Arisaig, there are fine views of the Small Isles of Rùm, Eigg, Muck and Canna, and the sparkling white sands of Morar before coming to Mallaig itself.

The line is single track throughout and trains must wait at stations with passing loops for opposite direction trains to pass. The trains that operate on the line must have RETB, Radio Electronic Token Block which is controlled by a central centre at Banavie just outside Fort William.

Traction

The majority of services on the line are currently provided by the Scotrail fleet of Class 156s. The Caledonian Sleeper? uses DB Schenker Class 67s