An MP has called on Network Rail to repair the Highland railway line after a sea wall protecting it was damaged during Storm Babet.
Jamie Stone, the MP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross wrote to Network Rail CEO Andrew Haines, to express his concerns on Monday.
The aftermath of Storm Babet has left significant damage to the defensive structure that lies adjacent to the railway line between Brora and Helmsdale and Mr Stone has urged Network Rail to ensure that the necessary repairs are carried out as a matter of urgency.
He described the railway line as a “vital lifeline” which is “fundamental to the future of economic activity in the area”.
The line Wick/Thurso line between Brora and Helmsdale has been closed since October 30 after damage to the sea wall
Network Rail said around 27m of the wall along the railway had been damaged, in two separate sections.
At present, there is no timescale for it to be repaired and is expected to be closed for “several days”.
Further bad weather in the area is also expected over Wednesday and Thursday.
Mr Stone said: “The railway from Inverness to Wick and Thurso is a vital lifeline to the far north of Scotland and, indeed, to Orkney and Shetland. It is also fundamental to the future of economic activity in the area, which is something all of us wish to ensure.
“It is imperative that Network Rail regularly inspect defensive structures along parts of the railway line, especially as winter approaches and more severe weather is expected. This must be treated with urgency.”
In an update on Monday night, Network Rail said: “It’s been caused by the recent storms and high seas. One 18m section has been completely washed away, exposing track foundations. With that section gone, more damage is likely.
“We’ve inspected the area and our specialist engineers have confirmed it’s not safe to run trains until the damage is repaired. We don’t have a timescale yet, but the line will remain closed for several days. That is dependent on the weather, tides, and sea state though.
“We’ll be able to share more details tomorrow afternoon, though rest assured we’re already hard at work on a recovery plan with our contractors. We’re keeping a close eye on further bad weather that’s expected on Wednesday and Thursday.”
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