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Travel from Edinburgh to Nairn and ScotRail Short Transfer Times

Hi everyone, I need to decide between two ScotRail itineraries, and I would appreciate your advice. I am pretty sure that option #1 is the better choice, but I want to make sure I am not missing important information.

On Thursday 30 May, I need to transfer from Edinburgh to Nairn. I prefer to arrive in Nairn early/mid afternoon. My accommodation, Sunny Brae (as recommended on this forum, thank you!) has a 4 PM check in, so I intend to drop off my bags and then wander around Nairn for a bit. On ScotRail I see two possible itineraries:

1) Depart Edinburgh Waverly at 10:32 AM. Change at Inverness with a 12 minute transfer time. Arrive in Nairn at 2:47 PM.

2) Depart Edinburgh Waverly at 9:30 AM. Change at Aberdeen with a 5 minute transfer time. Arrive in Nairn at 1:49 PM.

Each itinerary has the same price for an advance ticket (28.30 GBP).

Option #1 appeals to my anxious brain because of the longer transfer time between trains. Also, if the train into Inverness is late, I could catch a bus to Nairn if needed. On the other hand, option #2 has an earlier arrival time, which has some appeal. But that five minute transfer time sounds kind of bonkers. Is the train into Aberdeen often late? If so, the next train to Nairn would leave 90 minutes later and I would lose whatever time I thought I had gained.

Posted by
6084 posts

This will always be personal preference. The via Aberdeen is a booked connection. In practice, from personal experience, they do hold connections at Aberdeen for (I am told) up to 10 minutes. The arriving train is at Platform 4, and the departing one 6N, so it is a flat walk up the platform.
This is the station plan-
I've certainly waited for over 5 minutes for a late running train from the south.

Oddly it is the Inverness connection I would be more anxious about. The Highland main line has long single track sections so trains pass either at stations or in certain dynamic loops. Thus if an earlier train is late you could be held somewhere waiting for it to pass.

But again Inverness hold connections within reason.

There is an earlier 0936 from Edinburgh to Inverness, change Perth, arrives Nairn at 1350.

There is no perfect answer. It depends on your attitude to stress.

Me, I would do the via Aberdeen for the coastal scenery, and that I am on an Inter7city train thus higher quality stock. I'm happy to trust Aberdeen staff, and I can nudge the guard to phone through If it starts to look dodgy.

Posted by
98 posts

Thank you so much, isn31c; the type of advice you provide, based on your experience and knowledge of the train system, is exactly what I was seeking. The platform connection at Aberdeen station looks straightforward; my luggage will be a carry on size backpack, so I feel comfortable making that transfer. I like the idea of admiring the coastal scenery along the route up from Edinburgh. I will purchase my ticket #2 today.