The campaign to reopen Dalwhinnie level crossing
We want Network Rail to urgently reopen the popular crossing at Dalwhinnie
Fighting the closure
In July 2021, Network Rail (NR) controversially padlocked the gates at Dalwhinnie level crossing without any consultation.
This severed an historic and popular route to lochs, glens and hills including Ben Alder.
We met the Transport Minister
In October 2022, we met Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth alongside representatives of the Dalwhinnie community, local businesses and national outdoors bodies.
The Minister asked her officials to set up a follow-up meeting for her with all stakeholders, and to invite Network Rail to attend.
Ramblers Scotland director Brendan Paddy said: “We're pleased that the Minister listened to the concerns of locals and the wider outdoors community about NR’s high-handed and disproportionate actions.
“The Minister was aware that the Dalwhinnie debacle is part of a widespread issue with NR's approach to level crossings across the nation, including in her own Fife constituency.
“While operation of the rail network is reserved to Westminster, we are grateful to the Minister for calling a meeting with rail bosses to look at potential solutions.
“Having the Minister involved in the discussions is important to us because through their actions Network Rail have lost the trust and confidence of the community and other interested parties, including Ramblers Scotland."
The campaign so far
Since the closure, we’ve worked alongside local and national partners to get the crossing urgently reopened, including:
- Gaining backing from nine leading Scottish outdoor recreation groups
- Running a joint petition signed by more than 9,000 people
- Sending a joint letter to Alex Hynes, MD of Scotland's Railway, signed by 15 signatories including landowners, businesses and local MSPs Kate Forbes and Ariane Burgess
- Filed Freedom of Information requests that have shown that in the last five years in Scotland there have been no instances of pedestrians being injured while using a ‘private’ level crossing. One rail passenger was injured crossing the lines at a station
- Securing meetings with Network Rail bosses, who faced unanimous opposition from all key stakeholders, including Cairngorms National Park.
Network Rail’s approach
Network Rail has provided no evidence of any injuries at Dalwhinnie crossing. The unilateral closure of Dalwhinnie crossing has in fact made it less safe, as some people continue to climb over the locked gates.
Network Rail’s own initial safety review at Dalwhinnie had recommended the installation of ‘miniature stop lights’ (a traffic light-style system to warn the public when trains are approaching) rather than closure.
Signs point to an underpass a mile south of the crossing, but this causes a long and unpleasant diversion alongside a busy A-road. There is no formal car park at the underpass itself.
Support for the campaign
We're pleased that the following organisations all want the crossing reopened: Mountaineering Scotland, The Munro Society, Ben Alder Estate, Cairngorms Business Partnership, ScotWays, The Highland Council, Cycling UK in Scotland, Scottish Canoe Association, The British Horse Society, Dalwhinnie Old School Hostel, Dalwhinnie Community Council and John Muir Trust.
Kate Forbes, MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, has said of the closure: “The Ben Alder crossing has been happily used by tens of thousands of people for years, if not decades, without incident.
“It was deeply regrettable that NR decided to padlock the gates without first consulting any of the community and local businesses, and the fact that almost 10,000 people have signed a petition calling for this decision to be reversed shows the strength of feeling about it.
“None of the local stakeholder groups can understand this sudden and unexpected change, and I hope NR will finally listen.”
As yet, rail chiefs have refused to back down. Ramblers Scotland will continue to fight for the crossing to be reopened. You can support our campaigning work by donating.