New winter ice breakers unveiled by Scottish government

media captionThe new winter road clearing equipment has been officially unveiled

Two new ice breakers that will be used to keep Scotland's roads clear this winter have been unveiled.

The Raiko equipment is used in Finland and other northern European countries to cut through the kind of hard packed sheet ice which closed the M8 in 2010.

Snow and ice closed 20 miles of Scotland's busiest road for 48 hours.

The Scottish government has also announced strengthened weather stations and a new camera network to improve decision-making during bad weather.

Transport Minister Keith Brown said: "As part of our winter resilience review we carried out a comparison with other countries.

"One of the main difficulties in 2010 was the hard-packed sheet ice covering the M8 between Glasgow and Edinburgh which proved very difficult to clear due to extreme low temperatures."

He said the Raiko Icebreaker would be "a very useful addition if we have to deal with these conditions again".

Other measures include stocks of salt, publication of daily gritting plans and a Freight Scotland hotline to advise of network problems.

Mr Brown added: "Last year we stocked more salt than was used over the whole of the previous winter and published daily gritting plans for trunk road operating companies to give the public more information than ever before about what was happening in their community - we aim to do the same again this year.

"We also have around 70,000 litres of alternative de-icers in stock that will work in the most severe conditions when road salt becomes less effective.

"We have worked with police and freight partners to develop more robust procedures for managing HGVs and buses during severe weather, including new guidance and a hotline so that drivers can alert Traffic Scotland of any problems as soon as they occur."

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