Inverness Courier helps save direct London rail service

A campaign by The Inverness Courier to save the Highland Chieftain direct rail service between Inverness and London has been successful.

Unveiling the Government’s plans for rail investment yesterday, transport secretary Philip Hammond revealed the option of forcing passengers to change trains in Edinburgh had been ruled out.

The Courier launched its Save the Chieftain campaign in September after a study by the former Audit Commission chairman Sir Andrew Foster suggested that forcing passengers change trains in Edinburgh could save the government tens of millions of pounds.

Scotland’s transport minister Stewart Stevenson was the first person to sign the paper’s petition, describing the direct link as “absolutely vital” and adding that The Inverness Courier had made a compelling case for its retention.

Local businesspeople and politicians from all parties lent their backing to the campaign, including Inverness MP and chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander.

Robert Taylor, Inverness Courier editor, said: “We were surprised how the issue touched a nerve not just with business leaders, who feared for the signal such a move would send to customers and potential investors, but also ordinary travellers.

“It has been an intense few months pulling everything together, particularly for our chief reporter Val Sweeney, but it is clear the paper’s efforts have made a real difference.”

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