Operators criticise Glenfinnan coach parking charges

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Glenfinnan has become a popular destination for tourists, especially Harry Potter fans, wishing to see the Jacobite steam train cross the curved viaduct. RENATA via WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Despite concerns raised by coach operators, the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) has defended a decision to introduce a per-passenger fee for coach parking at Glenfinnan Monument. The NTS plans to increase its charge of £1 per passenger, announced in January and introduced in April, to £2 next year, reports the Locahber Times.

The Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) and UK Coach Operators Association (UKCOA) both criticised the move, the latter saying that the notice period to operators had been too short. However, an NTS spokesperson said that the charge was necessary to aid investment in facilities at the site, which it says received 540,000 visitors last year.

The village of Glenfinnan has a population of around 150, and locals say it has been struggling with the traffic and waste generated by visitors, most of whom are making short stops to view the Glenfinnan Viaduct.

The NTS spokesperson said the decision had not been taken lightly, and explained: “The National Trust for Scotland and all in the community are working hard to find a way to welcome visitors in a way that is manageable for the available facilities and which gives everyone a good experience. We introduced a modest parking charge for coaches and buses for the high season from 1 April to 31 October.

“This is a single fee, calculated on the basis of £1 per passenger within the bus. The funds our charity raises from this charge will be dedicated to current and future investment at Glenfinnan, so that we can manage the issues created by its popularity and ensure a good arrival experience for all visitors, including coaches and group visitors.

“We value the fact that visitors who arrive by coach and bus have arrived more sustainably than if they had driven individually by car. The coach parking charge equivalent to £1 per passenger is deliberately less than the approximate charge per person charge that the average car pays when they park in Glenfinnan.”

The NTS says that the situation in Glenfinnan is ‘exceptional’ in terms of visitor numbers and impact, and that it has been exploring the possibilities of a park & ride operation.