Road to the Isles re-opens after landslide debris cleared

Landslide debris on Fort William-Mallaig line east of Lochailort. Photo: ScotRail
Landslide debris on Fort William-Mallaig line east of Lochailort. Photo: ScotRail
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Part of the West Highland Line will remain shut until Monday after a landslide engulfed the track and an adjacent trunk road, which re-opened yesterday.

Roads engineers cleared 100 tonnes of debris from the A830 between Fort William and Mallaig but more extensive repairs are required to the single-track railway.

The landslip happened after heavy rain at about 6pm on Thursday, amid a Met Office yellow severe weather alert.

Clear-up efforts were hampered by further material being washed on to the road at the site at Arienskill, east of Lochailort.

The road reopened at about 2pm yesterday, with traffic light control, while the clearance operation continued.

BACKGROUND: Scotland’s weather: Flood risk from downpours

A spokeswoman for BEAR Scotland, which maintains the road for the Scottish Government’s Transport Scotland agency, said: “The traffic signals will remain in place over the weekend to allow teams to safely clear the remaining debris from the culverts and ditches next to the route.”

The ScotRail Alliance, which includes track owner Network Rail, said the line would remained closed over the weekend to repair damage.

It said stone and mud had been strewn across 70m (230ft) of the track after “the mountainside gave way”.

A spokesman said: “Trains between Glasgow Queen Street and Mallaig are terminating at/starting from Fort William while engineers work to divert floodwater away from the line, clear the debris and repair damage to the infrastructure beneath.

“We are working to get the line open as soon as possible, but significant repairs will be needed to fix the damage caused to both the railway and slope above.

“Engineers expect to take around 48 hours to clear material from the line, replace washed away ballast beneath the track and then carry out work to stabilise the slope above the line to minimise future landslip risks.”

READ MORE: Scots trains ‘ran despite landslip risk’