|Dates of operation||21 July 1856–1 February 1865|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8+1⁄2 in)|
|Inverness and Aberdeen|
The Inverness and Aberdeen Junction Railway (I&AJR) was a railway company in Scotland, created to connect other railways and complete the route between Inverness and Aberdeen. The Inverness and Nairn Railway had opened to the public on 7 November 1855 and the Great North of Scotland Railway (GNoSR) was building from Aberdeen to Keith. The I&AJR opened, closing the gap, on 18 August 1856.
It found the GNoSR a difficult partner and passenger journeys from Inverness to the south via Aberdeen were inconvenient and circuitous.
In the 1840s the Scottish railway network was taking shape, chiefly at first in Central Scotland. Connecting Aberdeen to the central area was feasible, and a line was completed to Aberdeen in 1850.  The commercial and social advantages of a railway connection were by this time well-known, and a town or community that was not so connected was destined to decline. Accordingly interests in Inverness sought their own railway connection.
The massive physical obstacle of the Monadhliath Mountains lies between Inverness and Perth, and the limited power of locomotives of the day ruled out any route that might have to climb over the mountain passes, so that a connection to Aberdeen seemed, for the time being, to be the only solution. 
It was financial interests in Aberdeen who put forward a line from there to Inverness, and in 1846 the Great North of Scotland Railway (GNoSR) was given its authorising Act of Parliament. However this was for a line from Aberdeen to Huntly only. The GNoSR intended to extend on to Inverness later, when circumstances might be more favourable. However investors were reluctant to put money into the scheme, and of the £1.1 million of authorised capital, only £400,000 had been subscribed by 1852. Despite the deficient capital, the line was tentatively opened for traffic in 1854.  Having taken stock, the GNoSR decided to extend as far as Keith, but no further. 
Commercial interests in Inverness were dismayed at this turn of events, but they were encouraged to consider that a railway connection was realistic by the engineer Joseph Mitchell, who persistently advocated the necessary construction. However it was clear that the huge financial outlay was not going to be available for some time, and he proposed a more modest scheme, the 15 miles to Nairn only. Mitchell was insistent that this was the first stage in a connection to the Central Scotland railway network. The project got its authorising Act on 24 July 1854.  The line opened for traffic on 7 November 1855. 
While the Inverness and Nairn Railway was under construction, Joseph Mitchell set about fostering the formation of a company to close the gap between Nairn and Huntly. He encouraged the Great North of Scotland Railway to engage financially in a new company, called the Inverness and Elgin Junction Railway. However the Great North company began to see that its heavy financial commitment would not be rewarded, and it decided instead to build independently as far as Keith. This would now leave a gap between Nairn and Keith, and Mitchell contrived to divert the Inverness and Elgin Junction to continue to Keith. 
In 1854 proposals had been put forward for a line from Nairn to Huntly, jointly built, the GNoSR and the I&AJR building their own half of the line, and meeting at the crossing of the River Spey near Rothes. In fact the GNoSR put a number of obstacles in the way of this scheme, chiefly because of their own inability to fund the railway, and it did not proceed.
After some discussion, a new prospectus was issued in Inverness, and the name of the concern was now to be the Inverness and Aberdeen Junction Railway; the first meeting was held on 21 August 1855.The capital was to be £300,000 in £10 shares, and the GNoSR was invited to invest £50,000 and have two seats on the board of the new company. The Inverness group also undertook in a letter that they would abide by the agreement with the Great North for running powers all the way to Inverness. 
In the face of considerable local prevarication, the I&AJR got its authorising Act of Parliament on 21 July 1856. Share capital was £325,000.    Agreement with the Inverness and Nairn Railway to take over their line was finalised on 17 March 1857. 
The first part of the construction was rapid, and on 22 December 1857 [note 1] a section was opened from Nairn to Dalvey. Dalvey was on the approach to Forres, but on the west side of the River Findhorn; the bridging of the river was a major engineering work. That was accomplished and the railway opened as far as Elgin on 25 or 28 (Ross) March 1858, and the line was complete and opened to Keith on 18 August 1858. The Great North Company had opened its line from the east to Keith on 11 October 1856. The I&AJR company took over the working of the Inverness and Nairn Railway, but that company retained its independent existence until amalgamation on 17 May 1861.    
There were no through trains between Inverness and Aberdeen: passengers changed at Keith. There were four trains daily on the I&AJR, of which three made the necessary connection. 
So Inverness now had its through connection to Aberdeen, to Central Scotland, and to England. This communication channel relied on co-operation between the Inverness and Aberdeen Junction Railway and the Great North of Scotland Railway. But the GNoSR was described as "Bristling with fight and notoriously cantankerous."  The GNoSR had understood that it would have running powers throughout to Inverness, but now these were refused, leading to friction between the two companies. In addition there was personal animosity between the respective general managers. 
Moreover the GNoSR failed to make friends with the Aberdeen Railway at Aberdeen; for many years the two companies had separate stations there. Passengers from Inverness to the south needed to get between the stations, and the Aberdeen Railway trains departed on time, irrespective of a delayed arrival at the other station by the Great North train.  
Interests in Inverness had long harboured the intention of getting a direct route to Perth and the South; they were encouraged y the engineer Joseph Mitchell. The Inverness and Nairn Railway had always been seen as a first step towards that.  Now on 22 July 1861 an Act was passed for the Inverness and Perth Junction Railway. The starting point for its southward path would be Forres, not Nairn, in order better to serve the important fishing communities further east. It was to run to Dunkeld and adopt the Perth and Dunkeld Railway route there to Stanley, there joining the Scottish North Eastern Railway for the final run into Perth. The Perth and Dunkeld Railway was taken over on 28 February 1864. 
Operationally the route was to be challenging, with a high summit at Dava, 1,052 feet above sea level and another at Druimuachdar at 1,484 feet.  However despite the mountainous terrain, the engineering proved to be remarkably benign; only two large masonry viaducts and two short tunnels were needed, although a total of 245 underbridges were required. The terrain was very thinly populated.  The line opened from Forres to Perth via Aviemore in 1863. Trains using the new route from Inverness ran over the I&AJR line as far as Forres. 
A new station layout was provided at Forres. Hitherto the route had run straight through, but now a new triangular track layout was constructed on the south side, the original main line becoming goods by-pass lines. Passenger platforms were provided on all three double-track chords of the new triangle. 
The Inverness and Aberdeen Junction Railway and the Inverness and Perth Junction Railway amalgamated on 1 February 1865, and on 29 June 1865 a change of name was authorised: the enlarged company was to be called the Highland Railway company.  
A direct line was constructed by the Highland Railway, opening in stages, but throughout on 1 November 1898. 
The majority, but not all, of the southward traffic was diverted over the new direct line, not travelling over the I&AJR route at all, except for a short distance of the former Nairn Railway at Inverness.
The uneasy relations at Aberdeen eased towards the end of the nineteenth century, to such an extent that by 1905 an amalgamation was proposed. It was however turned down by Highland Railway shareholders. In 1908 trains ran through between Aberdeen and Inverness without change of locomotive for the first time. 
When the line between Elgin and Keith was opened in August 1858, its route ran inland, away from the coast, between Elgin and Nairn, and many small coastal settlements were remote from the new railway.
Local interests in Findhorn, finding themselves rather isolated between Findhorn Bay and the open waters of Burghead Bay, promoted a branch line, and this received authorising powers on 19 April 1859, incorporating the Findhorn Railway with capital of £9,000.    The terrain was easy, mostly running on sand, and a three-mile line was designed, making a junction a short distance east of Kinloss station on the I&AJR main line. Joseph Mitchell was the engineer and Charles Brand of Montrose was the contractor. 
The line was inspected by Captain Tyler of the Board of Trade on 9 April 1860 but because of a delay in furnishing signal posts at Kinloss Junction, the opening was delayed.  The line opened on 18 April 1860   and trains were worked by the company itself, although rolling stock may have been hired from the larger company. The wooden station building of Kinloss was relocated so as to be at the point of junction of the Findhorn line, a distance of about 300 yards. The company had one locomotive, an 0-4-0 saddle tank built by Neilson and Company of Glasgow in 1860. 
Once opened, the company immediately found that available traffic did not cover basic operating expenses, and it was soon in serious financial difficulty. The Findhorn Railway appealed to the I&AJR for help, and the larger company took it over, effective from 1 March 1862. [note 2] (The I&AJR became a constituent of the Highland Railway in 1865.) The Findhorn Company's own locomotive was disposed of to the I&AJR in 1862, becoming that company's no 16. [note 3] The Kinloss station was relocated to its earlier position.   
The I&AJR too found that it was impossible to cover operating expenses, estimated at £800 annually, and it was renegotiated with the Highland Railway in March 1867 and again in 1867. At the latter date the Findhorn Railway's directors were made responsible for the future shortfall, but they withdrew that undertaking in January 1869, and the line closed at the end of January 1869.   Occasional goods trains ran until 1880. [note 4] In December 1886 the railway was put up for sale. 
Findhorn's activity as a port was severely limited by silting and a sand bar at the entrance to the harbour, which prevented all but the smallest vessels from entering.  
Little remains of the track bed, chiefly because of the construction of RAF Kinloss, over its route.
Note: although this section is drafted in the present tense, much of it was written in 2007, and statements may not reflect the present-day situation.
The main line continues in use as part of the Aberdeen to Inverness line: passenger services are provided by ScotRail at approximately a two-hourly interval on weekdays; there is a minimal service on Sundays. Stations within the original extent of the line are open at Nairn, Forres, Elgin and Keith.
Connections to adjacent lines are also closed, with the exception of the Hopeman Branch which branched off the main line at Alves & was used for freight traffic to Burghead Maltings until 1992 - it remained intact through to Burghead but was mothballed in 1998. The junction with the main line was finally removed this century and the remains of the branch from Alves to Roseisle Maltings now lie heavily overgrown.
The old station at Forres is closed and only one platform out of the previous six at the new station at Forres is now in service. The Keith and Dufftown Railway platform at Keith Junction is still in use, though the branch beyond a short stub is closed. 
Freight traffic is limited to occasional trainloads of whisky & containers to/from Elgin, where the former GNoSR Elgin East station yard is still operational.
The Keith and Dufftown Railway heritage group reopened the Dufftown line beyond Keith Town in 2001, and they hope to reinstate the missing link back to the national network at Keith in the long term.
The Highland Railway (HR) was one of the smaller British railways before the Railways Act 1921, operating north of Perth railway station in Scotland and serving the farthest north of Britain. Based in Inverness, the company was formed by merger in 1865, absorbing over 249 miles (401 km) of line. It continued to expand, reaching Wick and Thurso in the north and Kyle of Lochalsh in the west, eventually serving the counties of Caithness, Sutherland, Ross & Cromarty, Inverness, Perth, Nairn, Moray and Banff. Southward it connected with the Caledonian Railway at Stanley Junction, north of Perth, and eastward with the Great North of Scotland Railway at Boat of Garten, Elgin, Keith and Portessie.
The Great North of Scotland Railway (GNSR) was one of the two smallest of the five major Scottish railway companies prior to the 1923 Grouping, operating in the north-east of the country. Formed in 1845, it carried its first passengers the 39 miles (63 km) from Kittybrewster, in Aberdeen, to Huntly on 20 September 1854. By 1867 it owned 226+1⁄4 route miles (364.1 km) of line and operated over a further 61 miles (98 km).
The Highland Main Line is a railway line in Scotland. It is 118 mi (190 km) long and runs through the Scottish Highlands linking a series of small towns and villages with Perth at one end and Inverness at the other. Today, services between Inverness and Edinburgh, Glasgow and London use the line. At Inverness the line connects with the Far North Line, the Aberdeen-Inverness Line and services on the Kyle of Lochalsh Line. All trains are diesel-powered.
The Aberdeen–Inverness line is a railway line in Scotland linking Aberdeen and Inverness. It is not electrified. Most of the line is single-track, other than passing places and longer double-track sections between Insch and Kennethmont and Inverurie and Berryden Junction (Aberdeen).
Forres railway station serves the town of Forres, Moray in Scotland. The station is managed and served by ScotRail and is on the Aberdeen–Inverness line, between Nairn and Elgin, measured 119 miles 42 chains (192.4 km) from Perth via the Dava route.
Elgin railway station is a railway station serving the town of Elgin, Moray in Scotland. The station is managed and served by ScotRail and is on the Aberdeen to Inverness Line, between Keith and Forres, measured 12 miles 18 chains (19.7 km) from Forres.
The Morayshire Railway was the first railway to be built north of Aberdeen, Scotland. It received royal assent in 1846 but construction was delayed until 1851 because of the adverse economic conditions existing in the United Kingdom. The railway was built in two phases with the section from Elgin to Lossiemouth completed in 1852. When the Inverness and Aberdeen Junction Railway (I&AJR) reached Keith via Elgin, the Morayshire was able to complete the Speyside second phase by connecting the Craigellachie line at Orton. Initially, the Morayshire ran its own locomotives on the I&AJR track between Elgin and Orton but this was short-lived and the Morayshire carriages were then hauled to Orton by the I&AJR. Disagreements with the I&AJR eventually forced the Morayshire into constructing a new section of track between its stations at Elgin and Rothes; this was completed in 1862. The Morayshire accomplished its final enlargement by connecting to the new Great North of Scotland Railway (GNoSR) Craigellachie station in 1863. Crippling debt forced the company into an arrangement with the GNoSR for it to assume operation of the track in 1866. By 1881, the Morayshire had greatly reduced its liabilities and its long-sought-after amalgamation with the GNoSR finally took place.
The Inverness and Nairn Railway was a railway company that operated between the burghs in the company name. It opened its line in 1855 and its passenger business was instantly successful. At first it was not connected to any other line. However it was seen as a first step towards connecting Inverness and Central Scotland, via Aberdeen and when feasible, directly southwards.
The Inverness and Ross-shire Railway was a Scottish railway company formed in 1860 to build a line from Inverness to Invergordon. It opened in 1862 as far as Dingwall and in 1863 to Invergordon. It was extended to a Bonar Bridge station in 1864. It provided the basis for later extensions that eventually reached Thurso, forming the Far North Line. The Dingwall and Skye Railway branched off at Dingwall to reach the Kyle of Lochalsh.
The Inverness and Aviemore Direct Railway was a section of railway built by the Highland Railway to provide a shorter and more direct route between Inverness and Aviemore, carrying its main line traffic to Perth and the south.
The Inverness and Perth Junction Railway (I&PJR) was a railway company that built a line providing a more direct route between Inverness and the south for passengers and goods. Up to the time of its opening, the only route was a circuitous way through Aberdeen. The I&PJR was built from a junction with the friendly Inverness and Aberdeen Junction Railway at Forres to the Perth and Dunkeld Railway at Dunkeld.
The Perth and Dunkeld Railway was a Scottish railway company. It was built from a junction with the Scottish Midland Junction Railway at Stanley, north of Perth, to a terminus at Birnam, on the south bank of the River Tay opposite Dunkeld.
The Strathspey Railway was a railway company in Scotland that ran from Dufftown to Boat of Garten. It was proposed locally but supported by the larger Great North of Scotland Railway (GNoSR), which wanted to use it as an outlet towards Perth. The GNoSR had to provide much of the funding, and the value of traffic proved to be illusory. The line opened in 1863 to Abernethy, but for the time being was unable to make the desired connection to the southward main line. Although later some through goods traffic developed, the route never achieved its intended purpose.
The Keith and Dufftown Railway was a railway company in Scotland. Its line ran between Dufftown and Keith on the main line between Inverness and Aberdeen. The company was formed in 1857, but it struggled to attract investors and for some years was unable to proceed with construction.
The Fortrose Branch, also known as the Black Isle Railway, was a railway branch line serving Fortrose in the Black Isle, in the north of Scotland. It was built by the Highland Railway as a tactical measure to exclude a rival railway company and to move the locals from Fortrose onwards to other destinations.
The Buckie and Portessie Branch was a railway branch line in Scotland, built by the Highland Railway to serve an important fishing harbour at Buckie, in Banffshire. It connected with the rival Great North of Scotland Railway at Portessie.
The Banff, Portsoy and Strathisla Railway was a Scottish railway company that connected the Aberdeenshire ports of Banff and Portsoy with the main line of the Great North of Scotland Railway (GNoSR) main line at Grange, a place some distance east of Keith. The railway opened in 1859, and was renamed the Banffshire Railway in 1863 when the GNoSR began running services.
There have been three Kittybrewster railway stations at Kittybrewster, Aberdeen. The first opened in 1854 as a terminus of the Great North of Scotland Railway's (GNoSR) first line to Huntly. This was replaced two years later by a station on a new line to a city terminus at Waterloo. It was replaced again when the Denburn Valley Line to Aberdeen Joint opened in 1867.
Buckie railway station was a railway station in Buckie, in current day Moray. The station was opened by the Great North of Scotland Railway (GNoSR) on its Moray Firth coast line in 1886, served by Aberdeen to Elgin trains.