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Rail line reopens after severe flooding and landslides

The West Highland railway line fully reopened for the start of service on Monday.

Closed: The West Highland railway line was shut due to severe flooding.
Closed: The West Highland railway line was shut due to severe flooding.

The West Highland railway line has fully reopened after severe flooding swept away part of the track.

The route, which connects Glasgow to the ports of Mallaig and Oban, was closed earlier this month after heavy rain caused landslides.

On Sunday, August 4, around 80mm of rain fell in just a few hours – washing away sections of ballast and embankment at multiple locations around Crianlarich and Tyndrum.

Further heavy rain on Friday, August 9, also caused landslips which brought debris down from above and blocked the line at Arrochar.

Damage: Severe flooding caused landslides. Network Rail Scotland

Since the line closure, teams on the ground have worked around-the-clock to repair the damaged sites – strengthening embankments and enhancing drainage where possible and rebuilding the track-bed before reinstating the railway.

More than 3000 tonnes of rock, including 350 one-tonne rock armour blocks, was used to rebuild and support the embankments.

The line was reopened for the start of service on Monday.

Michael Matheson, cabinet secretary for transport, infrastructure and connectivity, said: “The Network Rail team have been working on site just south of Crianlarich 24-hours-a-day in order to get the West Highland mainline repaired and have had to bring in 3000 tonnes of aggregate in what is a very difficult site to get access to.

“I want to thank the workforce who have put in a tremendous effort to get this work complete.

“Their dedication and commitment to getting these repairs carried out has ensured that the line has been completed and repaired early to get passenger services re-established on Monday.

“I also want to thank passengers for their patience while this repair has been undertaken.”

Reopened: The West Highland railway line. Network Rail Scotland

The site south of Crianlarich is the last section of the line to complete repairs.

Sections north of Crianlarich to Oban reopened last Monday, while the landslip at Arrochar, to the south, was cleared and the line reopened on Thursday.

Railway: Repair teams worked around-the-clock. Network Rail Scotland

Alex Hynes, managing director of Scotland’s Railway added: “I am delighted that we are opening the West Highland Line earlier than first anticipated.

“Our engineers worked around-the-clock often in challenging weather to rebuild the line and get it open as quickly as possible for our customers.

“This was a very complex series of repairs as we needed to reconstruct the slope beneath the line – replacing thousands of tonnes of lost material – before repairing the tracks above.

“It was made even more challenging by the remote location but our teams have worked superbly well to get the job done safely.

“My thanks to everyone, our contractors, suppliers, train operators and freight partners for their on-going cooperation. It’s this kind of collaboration which was absolutely vital to getting passengers and freight moving again and I’m hugely proud of the teams involved.”

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