Cast back half a century and there would have been nothing unusual about a direct train from Edinburgh to the port of Oban on Scotland’s west coast. Indeed, our 1961 Bradshaw shows three direct trains each weekday from the Scottish capital to Oban — all running along the now sadly defunct Callander route, and serving along the way stations like Kingshouse Platform (on request), Killin Junction and Luib. All names that have long disappeared from the timetables.
But First ScotRail will this summer offer a seasonal Sunday excursion train from Edinburgh to Oban and back. It is the third season for this useful summer service, which offers travellers the chance to swap the heat and hype of Edinburgh for some cool Highland breezes.
The 2012 season kicks off on Sunday with a departure from Edinburgh just after eight in the morning and the run to Oban takes four hours. The return train leaves Oban at 5.11pm. The train obviously cannot follow the classic route of yesteryear via Callander, so it runs west across central Scotland to skirt Glasgow and then picks up the West Highland Line.
Lynda Henderson of the For Argyll news bureau compiled an excellent description of the route when this train first started operation in 2010. You can find it online on the For Argyll website. Those of an adventurous disposition can create some fine days out using this Sunday special. On the outbound journey to Oban it is possible to alight at any intermediate station west of Crianlarich and then continue on the following Glasgow to Oban train that plies the same route just fifty minutes later. The little halt at Falls of Cruachan would be an obvious choice. The Oban Special (surely this train deserves a real name) runs every Sunday until the end of August. It is shown in Table 218 of the Thomas Cook European Rail Timetable.