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North of the Border

From some of the UK's busiest urban commuter routes to frozen highland mountains, keeping trains running on Scotland's rail network is a huge challenge. With winter looming large, the country's train, station and engineering staff are entering their toughest season.

When overhead power lines are ripped down by a freight train, it spells chaos for the country's West Coast Main Line and days of disruption for passengers at Glasgow Central Station. Yet even without engineering problems, this is a network under constant strain.

Scotland's trains have to cope with millions of foreign visitors every year - most them using Edinburgh Waverley Station. Every day, dispatcher Ronnie Park has to guide thousands of confused tourists as they rush for their trains, whilst Parisian cleaner Patrice and his team have just 10 minutes to make trains sparkle before their onward journeys. Even when services are running smoothly it is a challenging place to work - but when delays south of the border impact on Edinburgh's rush hour, the task for Ronnie and his colleagues becomes almost impossible.

Yet what really makes Scotland stand out from the rest of the UK are its vast and remote wilderness railways, such as the West Highland Line. This is where rail engineer Iain MacKinnon spends his days inspecting miles of mountain track on foot, clearing dead stags from the line and tightening every loose bolt that he finds. It is a lonesome job but 'a beautiful place to work' and it keeps the Scottish railways running.

Release date:

1 hour

Last on

Wed 25 Nov 2015 00:15
BBC Two except Northern Ireland, Scotland


Role Contributor
Series ProducerJo Hughes
DirectorRob McCabe