Leaves on the line again? No, newts

Great crested newts are living in ballast under the tracks. Picture: Complimentary
Great crested newts are living in ballast under the tracks. Picture: Complimentary
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RAIL engineers who thought they had seen it all are having to contend with a new problem – newts on the line.

Contractors upgrading a route in Lanarkshire were surprised to find the amphibians living in ballast under the tracks.

Great crested newts have been hibernating on the railway near Gartcosh, with the late spring extending their stay.

Workers preparing to electrify the Glasgow-Cumbernauld line have been forced to take measures to ensure they do not disturb the protected species and risk fines of up to £5,000 a newt.

Andrew Stocks, operations director of contractors Carillion, said: “We have found ourselves in the great crested newt capital of Scotland. Because of the cold weather, they have been hibernating longer than usual.”

The firm has asked ecological consultants to conduct a fingertip search of the newts, which grow up to six inches long.