Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has labeled as baffling and unhelpful claims by a Lib Dem Councilor that the Far North Line may close.
Mr Gibson was speaking in the wake of comments from Caithness Landward Councilor David Flear in which he said that this week's RMT strike might lead the powers-that-be to conclude that the line is not needed.
Mr Gibson who has long campaigned for improvements to the Far North line which stretches from Wick/Thurso to Inverness said…
"Why Cllr Flear is talking down the Far North's economic future is beyond me. The future of Caithness as well as Orkney is extremely positive and exciting. For that future to be realised the line needs to be improved not closed. I do not suppose closing the Far North Line will be top of First Scotrail or the Scottish Government's to do list."
"This type of negative talk does not advance the case for improving the Far North Line or the economy of the area. Yes there needs to be a lot improvement on the Line. There has already been a commitment to improve the signaling on the line which would hardly indicate the actions of government policy that are about to close it."
"If you look at the passenger numbers at stations on the Far North Line it shows that Thurso is the most used whilst Wick is one the most used. That is even with a near 4 hour journey. Therefore if the Dornoch link was implemented the journey would be slashed to around two and a half hours then I would imagine that the numbers would sky rocket."