Kinlochleven Railway

Location: Kinlochleven, Highlands.

Opened: 1907

Closed: 1960

Gauge: 3′

Length: 1660 yards (double line, approximately 4.5miles of track in total).

Locos: Two batches of 4 wheeled overhead electric stock. Locos 1 and 2 were ordered from Dick Kerr of Preston in 1908 and numbers 3 and 4 from Metropolitan Vickers in 1947. Each loco had two 35hp electric motors.

There were also three travelling cranes, the first two built by Stothery & Pitt in 1908, and the other by Carrick & Ritchie in 1916.

Rolling Stock: all 4 wheeled, a mix of v-tipper and flat wagons.

Other Details: Electric propulsion via catenary using 3/4″wire, steepest gradient: 1:100, sharpest curve: 50′ radius, rail: flat bottom 65lb. Electricity was generated from the site’s own power plant.

Details: The line was built by Sir Robert Macalpine for the British Aluminium Company to serve it’s aluminium smelteing plant and power station on the shore of Loch Leven. Kinlochleven was cut off from the mainline rail network, and wasn’t connected to anywhere by road until the 1920s when German prisoners of war were employed to build a road connecting Kinlochleven to the present day A82.

In 1907 British Aluminium opened the railway to tranship materials from the quay to the smelter and power station to assist with the production of aluminium. Output from the plant was taken down to the quay for loading into ships and transporting further afield. The overhead catenary provided propulsion for the locos, the aluminium plant, and had enough surplus to power the village. The line closed in 1960, and at some point in recent years has been the subject of a proposed revival in the form of a steam railway. Unfortunately no details are available on this scheme at the time of writing.


Photos of the route in the present day courtesy of Alasdair MacCaluim.

Image © Alasdair MacCaluim

Image © Alasdair MacCaluim

Image © Alasdair MacCaluim

Image © Alasdair MacCaluim

Image © Alasdair MacCaluim

Image © Alasdair MacCaluim

Image © Alasdair MacCaluim

Image © Alasdair MacCaluim

Image © Alasdair MacCaluim

Other photos:

Further photos can be found in:

‘Lost Lines – Narrow Gauge’

January 1958 ‘Railway Magazine’

Sept 1958 ‘Railway Magazine’

‘Railway Bylines’ Vol 8 Issue 2


The following clip is part of a DVD entitled ‘British Railways Volume 5 – British Narrow Gauge Miscellany’.  If the youtube video does not load at the correct position, scan forward to 57 minutes and 14 seconds.

Links: – proposed steam powered revival of the line that failed to take off, no website present, but perhaps there will be one day!


14 Responses to Kinlochleven Railway

  1. This is really interesting! Thanks.

    I’ve found it very difficult to find any information about this railway other than a couple of photos in the pub and Tourist Info office in Kinlochleven itself so this info is most useful.

  2. John Perkin says:

    I have been seeking three view drawings of these three locos for may years.
    Let me know if anyone can assist.
    John Perkin.

    • Tom says:

      Thanks John, I will let you know if I ever come across any. I know someone who has built a model of one based on photos, but have never seen any drawings.

      • Anonymous says:


        Any luck with the drawings yet?


        John Perkin.

      • Tom says:

        Not yet I’m afraid, John. But I have found a new book which has some views of both the railway and locos that I’d not seen before. It’s called ‘Old Kinlochleven and the Highland Aluminium Industry’. I got my copy on ebay.

  3. Ian Saunders says:

    I was born in kinlochleven and remember seeing the Railway running in the late 40’s and early 50,s I am trying to get some photos of locos and rolling stock.

    • Tom says:

      Hi Ian, it must have been an interesting sight when it was in operation. There are a few photos available online, I’ve updated the list of photos above and added some video footage from a DVD which I’ve found on YouTube. If you search for the DVD you can find cheap copies on places like Amazon or

      If you do come across any photos of the line I’d be very interested in seeing copies somehow if you wouldn’t mind.

      Thanks for your interest,

  4. John Perkin. says:

    I now have drawings of the 1947 locos and have built a model powered by an LGB chassis.

    Send me an E-Mail request if you require copies of the drawing or photos of the model.

  5. Andy Joel says:

    Fascinating railway. There are a few photos on these pages:

    Most of your links are dead by the way.

    • Tom says:

      Thanks Andy, it’s been a while since i’ve updated this site (or looked at comments so apologies for the delayed reply). Photos pop up every now and again, so thanks for making me aware of those. One day i’ll get around to making a small model of the line.

  6. NCB says:

    One minor point. Kinlochleven did have road connection pre 1920, on the north side of Loch Leven on the route now followed by the B863 (see early OS maps). In the 1920s the road on the south side was built, linking Kinlochleven with Invercoe, to form the A82 through route, which became the B863 when Ballachulish bridge was built.

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