Key Highland rail route to shut for 10 days amid concerns for business and tourism

It is known as one of the most scenic rail journeys in the world and takes thousands of tourists and locals in and out of the Highlands every year.

Corrour Station, which is only accessible by rail, will be affected by the closure of part of the West Highland Line as works are carried out. PIC: Creative Commons.

Now, concerns have been raised after it emerged part of the West Highland Line is to close for ten days with businesses worried about the effect on trade at the tail end of the holiday season.

Network Rail officials have confirmed to some that the closure will happen to carry out "critical work" on the 40-mile stretch between Spean Bridge and Crianlarich between October 5 and October 14 .

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Bus replacement services will be put in place between Crianlarich and Fort William but remote stations such as Corrour - which is only accessible by train - and Rannoch will have no service at all during the works.

The Herald has reported that a letter from Network Rail sets out the propose work, which is part of a multi-million pound investment to replace the track and decking over the Horseshoe Curve viaduct between Bridge of Orchy and Tyndrum.

Work will also be carried out on eight culvert culverts to make the line "more resilient" during severe weather, the newspaper reported.

The end of the tourist season locally is regarded as October 25, when the Jacobite Express - made famous by the Harry Potter movies - runs for the last time of the year between Fort William to Mallaig.

This stretch won't be directly affected by the works but tourists travelling to Fort William to catch the famous connection will have to travel by bus to get there.

The closure has not been officially announced with concerns that businesses have not been able to prepare for the impact of the closure.

Network Rail confirmed its works in a letter to one concerned businesswoman.

It says: "The timing of the closure is planned around avoiding the peak tourist season and the potential for adverse weather.

"Our normal process is to notify those living circa 200m of the worksites 10 to 14 days in advance of any work taking place.

"However, where possible, we will try to notify sooner for large projects. I am sorry that you have not been informed sooner on this occasion.

"I am sorry if our work will cause you any disturbance or inconvenience but hope this information goes some way to showing why this line has to be closed to accommodate the critical improvement work on our infrastructure."

Hege Hernes, secretary of the West Highland Community Rail Partnership, told The Herald there was concern over the lack of communication still over the closure.

Ms Hernes, who manages the Glenfinnan Station Museum said: "We are glad they are doing the work, but appalled that they have not let the businesses know at an earlier date.

"People need to know now. They should have known months and months ago.

"It [the work] ought to happen after October 25, which is when the season ends up here, although they may have their reasons for this.

"We need more communication and notification and discussion with the partnership that we make it as painfree as possible."

Network Rail could not confirm details of the repair works this morning (Saturday).

The Caledonian Sleeper also travels on the route and has been contacted for a comment.

A Scotrail spokesman said: "We will do everything we can to keep people moving when Network Rail carry out these vital improvement works."

The spokesman said rail replacement buses would run between Crianlarich and Fort William and also serve Spean Bridge, Tulloch and Roy Bridge.