PIC SPECIAL: New bike-friendly train stops in Oban

The welcoming party at Oban Railway Station on Monday, July 19.

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A piper, local cyclists and official dignitaries gathered at Oban railway station to herald the arrival of a new era of train travel for the UK.

After two years of development involving a host of agencies, ScotRail’s Highland Explorer, the first of five trains to be fitted out with a new dedicated ‘active travel carriage,’ pulled in on Monday afternoon.

The spacious area makes it a cinch for visitors to store a range of different sized bikes and bulky hiking equipment, as well as incentivising them to leave the car at home. It also features tables showing popular cycling routes across Argyll and Bute.

The active travel carriage.
The special tables

Just before 2pm, the service, which will run twice a day along the West Highland Line from Glasgow Queen Street, made its first stop in Oban.

It was met by local piper Jamie MacGregor; Bid4Oban chief Andy Spence; Carron Tobin of the Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative; and Councillor Elaine Robertson, of Argyll and Bute Council.

Joining the welcoming party were members of North Argyll Cycle Club, which has helped with the project, including local cyclists Moira and Ruaridh Newiss, of Connel; and Steven Groom, who lives near Benderloch.

Piper Jamie MacGregor, who lives near Connel, has been piping for 12 years and played for Oban High School.

Among the throng of cyclists getting off was Markus Stitz, founder of Bikepacking Scotland, who helped with the initiative, and declared the carriage ‘great’ and the journey ‘lovely’.

Marcus Stitz, of Bikepacking Scotland, was among the first off today.
Easy as pie: Cyclists depart from Scotrail’s Highland Explorer as it stops at Oban for the first time.

Sustrans, working with Scotrail and AITC have produced Rail & Trail, a new initiative promoting leisure cycling and the Caledonia Way from the railway.

Visit railandtrail.co.uk

For more information about routes go to:

www.visitscotland.com/see-do/active/cycling/sustrans-cycle-map

www.komoot.com/user/2184913606963

bikepackingscotland.com/argyll/