Work is set to begin to extend platforms at eight stations on the West Highland Line.

Helensburgh Upper, Ardlui, Roy Bridge, Garelochhead, Arrochar and Tarbet, Crianlarich, Bridge of Orchy and Tulloch stations will all benefit from the £1.7m investment on the famous route.

The Scottish Government-funded project will get underway at Arrochar & Tarbet from Saturday - with plans to deliver the improvements at all of the stations by the summer.

It will enable the introduction of longer trains in response to increasing volumes of leisure travel and higher demand for bike spaces, Network Rail said.

Those travelling on the line to Oban, Fort William and Mallaig will have more seats to choose from, as well as increased space for luggage and large items such as bikes, rucksacks and sports equipment.

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John Collins, Network Rail’s sponsor for the project said: “The West Highland Line is considered by many to be one of the world’s most scenic railway journeys so it is no surprise that demand for leisure travel on the line is high.

“Add to this the number of people accessing the area to walk and cycle and it is clear that demand is outstripping capacity on services on the line - with the only answer being to add carriages to the existing services.

“To enable the longer trains to run, we need to lengthen the platforms at stations across the route and this will ultimately help to deliver more seats and more bike spaces on trains. This will create a better passenger experience for people wishing to enjoy some of the best of what Scotland has to offer.”

Scott Prentice, ScotRail strategy and planning director, said: “We know how popular the West Highland Line is with our customers, and it continues to attract visitors from all over the world.

“The work being carried out by our colleagues at Network Rail is a fantastic step forward and will allow us to make changes to the trains that operate on the route.

The Herald: Network Rail will shortly begin work to extend eight platforms Network Rail will shortly begin work to extend eight platforms (Image: Network Rail)

“We are currently looking at all of the available options to add extra carriages throughout the day and we will confirm those changes as soon as possible.”

Passenger demand on the West Highland Line saw almost 500,000 journeys in the April to December 2023 period – growth of approximately 29% when compared to the same period in 2022.

Additional platform length will enable the introduction of more Highland Explorer carriages, which can accommodate up to 20 bikes and bulky sports gear, to Oban and Fort William.

As well as the increased seating capacity and luggage space, there will be an extra toilet and space for a catering trolley to significantly improve the customer experience on the busiest journeys.

Proposals will see either a single extension of up to 15 metres at one end of the platform or extensions of up to 7.5 metres at each end - depending on land availability or physical constraints. Additional work includes the erection of safety gates, barriers and access stairs where required.

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With four of the stations designated as ‘Listed Buildings’, care has been taken to design the work and utilise materials which will integrate with the existing structures. Listed Building’s Consent applications have been submitted to acquire the permissions needed to carry out the work.

The West Highland Line, which travels from Glasgow to Oban and Mallaig, passes through dramatic Rannoch Moor, the UK’s highest station at Corrour and the Glenfinnan viaduct made famous by the Harry Potter movies.

In 2009 the 164-mile route was voted the world's top rail journey, beating off 400 others, including the route of Machu Picchu in Peru and the Trans-Siberian express.

The line was the clear winner with readers of travel bible Wanderlust magazine in its annual awards.

The first sod of earth on the route was cut with a silver spade in October 1889. In August 1894, the line between Glasgow and Fort William was opened to passengers, the greatest mileage of railway ever opened in one day in Britain. And in April 1901, the line to Mallaig was opened, finally completing one of the great Victorian engineering projects.