CONON Bridge’s mothballed railway station could be re-opened by February after the project received the final vital piece of funding today (Thursday).
Highland councillors agreed to contribute £100,000 towards the costs of the re-opening the station at a meeting in Inverness.
The council received the request to contribute towards the £850,000 costs of refurbishing the station by Transport Scotland, who are working with Network Rail to have the station re-opened by February 2013 – before the start of essential resurfacing works on the Kessock Bridge, which will continue until June 2014.
The investment is additional to the £100,000 the council has committed to the cost of upgrading the railway station car park.
Neil Gillies, the council’s Transport Environmental and Community Services (TECS) director, told councillors that the construction could go ahead quite quickly because a lot of preparatory work including planning, signalling and timetabling had already been done.
Councillor Graham Phillips, chairman of the TECS committee, said: "This is a really excellent community regeneration project, which will bring significant benefits to Conon Bridge and surrounding area.
"Our support recognises the remarkable passenger growth on the route between Tain and Inverness. The re-opening of Conon Bridge railway station will extend a further opportunity for commuters to make the shift from cars to rail. "
Councillor Angela MacLean, a Ward Member for Dingwall and Seaforth, said: "This is great news for the community. The re-opening of the station could not come at a better time, given the disruption that will be caused by the partial closure of the Kessock Bridge while it is resurfaced between February 2013 and June 2014.
"I am delighted that the council has backed this project by not only contributing towards the station refurbishment but also the car park upgrade."
Councillors paid tribute to transport groups HITRANS and Friends of the Far North Line for their support for the project.
Conon Bridge railway station closed on June 13, 1960 at the start of an era which saw major cuts to Britain’s railway network.
The nearby station at Beauly was closed on the same day, but re-opened in 2002 following a long campaign.
However campaigners believe that a re-opened Conon Bridge station could be an even bigger success than Beauly, which now sees more than 50,000 journeys through the station each year.