Fibre Broadband on the Right Track in AngusNeil Hardie
A steam railway has entered the digital age following a fibre broadband roll-out in Angus.
The £463 million Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband (DSSB) programme now covers more than 17,000 Angus homes and businesses including the Caledonian Railway in Brechin.
Openreach engineers building the network on the ground have reached places like Aberlemno, Fern, Letham and Muirhead and in the new year, ultrafast full fibre will become available to some parts of Friockheim, Kellas and Glamis.
Andy Pegg from the Caledonian Railway said: “Steam engines were a huge driving force behind Scotland’s economy during the industrial revolution and right up to the 1960s.
“Without the railway, it would have been hard to reach some rural places in Scotland, and it’s great that we are able to keep up the tradition by preserving a bit of history.
“Caledonian Railway is run by volunteers so all the money we earn from ticket sales is reinvested back into our restoration and conservation programme.
“Since we rely on income generation it’s vital that we have a fully functional website where visitors can book and find out about our events.
“This Christmas, we’ve been promoting our annual Santa Special rides online. They are extremely popular and a big hit with families and kids.
“The uplift in broadband speed, thanks to the DSSB upgrade, has kept our website stable during this busy period and visitors can watch our films and view images with ease.”
The Brechin to Montrose branch line was closed to passengers in the early 1950s but remained open to freight traffic until 1981 when it was preserved by Caledonian Railway (Brechin) Ltd.
In 1993 the railway received a Light Railway Order which allowed trains to operate the line to Bridge of Dun.
Robert Thorburn, partnership director for Openreach in Scotland, added: “From train tracks to digital lines, Scotland’s infrastructure keeps us connected.
“Just like Santa we’re all set to keep delivering for Angus.
“We’ll continue to build more gigabit-capable, full fibre networks in harder-to-reach places in the new year.”
The DSSB programme is delivered through two projects, led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise in its area and the Scottish Government in the rest of Scotland.
Funding partners also include the UK Government through Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), BT Group, local authorities and the EU via the European Regional Development Fund, with Openreach leading the build on the ground.
Caledonian Railway member and North East region MSP Liam Kerr said: “The Caley railway is one of the shining lights of tourism in north Angus.
“Even though the engines and station hark back to a bygone age of steam, the broadband shouldn’t have to.
“So I welcome any investment in the infrastructure here, backed by the UK Government’s £350m fund for connecting the hardest to reach areas of the country.”