Highlands & Islands

Landslip shuts West Highland Line at Loch Eilt for several days

Train trapped in landslide Image copyright ScotRail Alliance
Image caption Five passengers were on the train. No-one was hurt

A landslip that derailed a train will result in part of the West Highland Line being closed for several days, ScotRail Alliance has said.

Five passengers were on board when the train came off the track early on Monday. No-one was injured.

The line is blocked at Loch Eilt between Arisaig and Glenfinnan and Fort William-Mallaig services will be suspended until further notice.

Tonnes of material, including mud and stones, were washed down onto the line.

ScotRail Alliance had earlier predicted services could resume on Thursday, but an assessment revealed the damage was worse than first thought.

NetworkRail Scotland said work to clear the landslip from the line would only begin once engineers have completed checks, including aerial inspections, to ensure the slope above the railway is stable.

Recovery works are expected to start on Tuesday and the company confirmed they may take several days to complete.

Image copyright Thomas Findlay
Image caption The scene of Monday morning's derailment
Image copyright NetworkRail Scotland
Image caption NetworkRail Scotland engineers are assessing damage to the tracks and the hillside above

David Dickson, ScotRail Alliance infrastructure director, said: "Our engineers are on-site assessing the damage and working to put plans in place repair to the line.

"We will reopen the railway as soon as possible, but significant work is required to clear the line and stabilise the slope above.

"We are grateful to customers for their patience during the disruption and buses are running between Fort William and Mallaig to help keep people on the move."

Image copyright ScotRail Alliance
Image caption Equipment has been brought in to clear away the mud from the train

The incident follows a challenging spell for railway crews, who were kept busy clearing away snow. The wintry conditions have been followed by an overnight thaw and rain.

A spokesman for NetworkRail Scotland: "At the moment we are assessing the extent of the damage.

"We have specialist geotechnical engineers onsite who will assess the slope above the railway to see if it is stable.

"We have track engineers onsite with heavy equipment to dig the mud away from the train once we know it is safe to do so."

He added "At this moment in time it is hard for us to estimate how long the line will be closed."

Image copyright NetworkRail Scotland
Image caption The landslip follows a spell of heavy snowfalls which kept railway engineers busy on the West Highland Line over the weekend