Line closure was platform for successful investment

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Network Rail engineers have successfully delivered upgrade and refurbishment works as part of a wider £5 million investment in the West Highland Line.

The line between Crianlarich and Fort William was closed from October 5-14, to allow vital engineering works to take place. During this time, engineers worked around-the-clock to refurbish bridges and renew under-track drainage systems on the line.

Bridges near Spean Bridge and Corrour were refurbished and repainted, while the timber deck was renewed and metalwork was repaired at Auch Viaduct near Bridge of Orchy. Drainage culverts beneath the track between Tyndrum Upper and Bridge of Orchy were also upgraded.

The platforms at Rannoch were rebuilt as part of the work, meaning that the station tea room could not be reached by rail during the line closure. However, over the 10-day work programme it played an important role; feeding and sustaining the workforce and providing a welcome respite from the persistent rain.

Despite the challenging weather conditions – which included a yellow weather warning – engineers worked around 9,000 hours to remove 400 tonnes of spoil, remove and replace 600 square metres of timber decking and lay 242 metres of track, as part of an investment of more than £5 million in Scotland’s railway.

Jeremy Spence, programme manager for Network Rail Scotland, said: ‘Work was carried out at several points on the West Highland Line during the line closure and despite the weather, was completed and the line re-opened as planned.

‘One of the major jobs requiring closure of the line was lifting the track and replacing the timber decking as part of the refurbishing of the Auch Viaduct with the metalwork on the structure also being repaired and repainted.

‘We also renewed and rebuilt drainage culverts under the line which, given the recent weather, is an important investment to protect the integrity and resilience of this crucial lifeline rail link.

‘We understand the inconvenience engineering works can cause to some customers and always try to deliver significant projects like these outwith the peak tourist seasons. We do though apologise to anyone whose plans were impacted by this closure.’

Work on the refurbishment of Auch viaduct is ongoing and includes strengthening, blasting and painting steel work and repairs to the existing abutments and piers. Work is scheduled to complete early in 2020.