Stonehaven derailment: Line 'to remain closed until October'

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The crash sceneImage source, PA Media
Image caption,
The derailment happened on 12 August

The track where three men died in the train derailment in Aberdeenshire is expected to reopen in October, Transport Secretary Michael Matheson has said.

The crash happened after a landslide on 12 August near Stonehaven.

Driver Brett McCullough, 45, conductor Donald Dinnie, 58, and passenger Christopher Stuchbury, 62, died. Six others were injured.

Mr Matheson said investigators have found it difficult to access the site.

The derailment took place when the 06:38 service from Aberdeen to Glasgow struck a landslip 1.4 miles north east of Carmont after a night of heavy rain.

In the Scottish Parliament, Maureen Watt, MSP for Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, asked the transport secretary when the line would open up again after the "very tragic accident".

Mr Matheson, who was updating MSPs on Holyrood's Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee, said the site was under the control of Police Scotland, who were investigating the crash with British Transport Police.

He confirmed work to provide an access road into the site is now at a very advanced stage.

Image source, Police Scotland
Image caption,
Brett McCullough, Donald Dinnie and Chris Stuchbury died after the train left the tracks

Mr Matheson added: "Once that has been complete and the investigations has been complete, Network Rail and engineers will be in a position where they can start the recovery phase of the process.

"My expectation is that the line will remain closed for passenger use into October, given the scale of the challenge they face moving into the recovery phase once the investigation has been completed."

Two independent task forces were launched in the wake of the crash.

Network Rail said the experts had been asked to improve its understanding and response to severe weather, and better manage its earthworks portfolio.

Dame Julia Slingo, former chief scientist at the Met Office and an expert in climatology, will lead the weather action task force.

Lord Robert Mair, a geotechnical engineer and member of the House of Lords select committee on science and technology, will spearhead the earthworks management task force.

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) said the train had turned back towards Aberdeen after reports of a separate landslip further down the track.

The RAIB report also said there had been thunderstorms in the area, with 52mm (2in) of rain falling within four hours - about 70% of the area's usual total monthly rainfall in August.

It said water flowing from land above the railway had washed some gravel from a drain onto the tracks, along with some larger pieces of rock from the sides of the trench.

Meanwhile, Mr Matheson also told MSPs travellers between Glasgow and Edinburgh would continue to face disruption for a "number of weeks" after the Union Canal burst during a storm resulted in damage to the track between Linlithgow and Polmont.