Branch Line Britain - celebrating Britain's minor railways

Scottish - Alloa review 1

Alloa railway station - 14/5/12

14/5/12 Stirling to Alloa
Dept Stirling 17.08
Arrive Alloa: 17.16
Weather: sunny
Traction used: Class 156 2-car DMU
Frequency of trains: hourly

The train I get from platform 5? of Stirling station has come in as a four car unit from Glasgow Queen Street and splits into two here. The part I get on has previously been used on the Glasgow Queen Street to Oban route as indicated by the route sings on the windows. Stirling station is one of the best in Scotland, with its Victorian canopies and curving platforms. There's even an old Caledonian Railway logo on the station front outside. It has 6 platforms, two of them bays, though these are for trains from the south. For some reason stopping trains from Edinburgh don't terminate here but go two stops further up to Dunblane.
We leave on time and the train is only about a quarter full. We travel along the mainline for about a mile before turning to the right, just as a Tesco train passes us going south. You can see the William Wallace monument on our left as we enter the branch and beyond that are the Ochil Hills, which run on our left for much of the journey. We cross over the river Forth and then travel along its flat floodplain for our short journey.
We reach 60 mph as we pass a large collection of warehouses on the right, which look like they are part of some army ordinance depot. As soon as they end on the right side, they start up on the left side. The A607 now runs parallel to us on the left and beyond that the sides of the mountains look pretty, covered in yellow gorse. There is a distillery on the right and then some woods, before industrial units appear, followed by housing. We then slow and pass through what looks like the remains of the original Alloa station. We then come into the recently opened Alloa station, which is a single platform on the right side. The line has buffers at the end, but to the left of it is a freight line, which goes onto Kincardie Power Station and Dunfermline. The actual journey has only taken about eight minutes as opposed to the advertised twelve.
Alloa station has a large glass building with waiting room and is right next to an Asda. For some reason the driver takes the train all the way to the buffers rather than stopping by the station building/way out so, the passengers have a bit further to walk. The train waits for twenty minutes before leaving and goes all the way to Glasgow Queen Street.
Summary: A newly opened branch line which is well used and there is talk of extending the line for passengers all the way to Dunfermline eventually. MC