26 June 2008

Investment in Caithness

We reported recently how a Wick-based coach, operated by Stagecoach following their recent acquisition of Highland Country Buses/Rapsons, was a little out of place in Skegness operating rail replacement services in lieu of trains following strike action by guards working for East Midlands Trains. This is one of three vehicles that has been allocated to an improved service between Scrabster, Thurso, Wick and Inverness. It is quite likely that this vehicle operated rail replacement service from Skegness direct from the manufacturer and hadn't yet entered service with the firm.

Stagecoach in Caithness (formerly known as Highland Country Buses Ltd) celebrated the launch of the three new coaches recently as they took to the road last week to operate Service 958. All are Volvo B7R/Plaxton Profile vehicles with Euro 4 engines and fitted with CCTV and seatbelts, offering customers added safety whilst travelling on the service. Service 958 is part of the Scottish Citylink network though a note on the main timetable states that vehicles may wear either operator's livery.

Charlie Mullen, Managing Director, Stagecoach Bluebird is quoted as saying “The Stagecoach Group recently acquired Highland Country Buses and so it is of particular significance for us to be able to demonstrate to passengers and staff in the area that we fully intend on continuing to develop public transport in the Highlands. The investment of over £500,000 in these coaches, which are all wheelchair accessible, will bring real improvements to the passengers of Caithness”.

Stagecoach in Caithness plan to work closely with Caithness Partnership over the next few months in order to gain valuable passenger feedback on proposed timetable improvements for the Caithness area. A public consultation will take place in advance of service changes in October. In such an area with such a sparse population density this investment is very encouraging indeed.