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Network Rail set to make urgent seawall repairs on Far North Line as major disruption to services continues between Inverness and Wick

By Alasdair Fraser

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Sea wall damage at Lothbeg, between Brora and Helmsdale.
Sea wall damage at Lothbeg, between Brora and Helmsdale.

Major rail disruption between Inverness and Wick is set to continue into next week as Network Rail presses on with emergency storm damage repairs.

The railway infrastructure agency is carrying out urgent seawall repairs on the Far North Line at Lothbeg, between Brora and Helmsdale.

Recent bad weather in the area caused extensive damage to a section of wall protecting the railway – washing away 18 metres of stonework in two locations.

Structural engineers have been assessing options, with the work being made more complex because repairs can only take place at low tide.

Specialist track machines and the replacement stone needed to repair the wall have been delivered and permission to work within the area, which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, has been requested from Scotland’s nature agency, NatureScot.

RELATED: Scotrail train services between Inverness and Aberdeen set for delays as Storm Ciaran brings torrential rain

To allow engineers safe access to the railway to complete this work, ScotRail services on the Far North Line are being run between Inverness and Lairg, with a limited service between Wick and Forsinard.

Rail replacement road transport is running to supplement this.

Repairs are expected to be completed and the line reopened early next week,with passengers urged to check journey details with ScotRail or National Rail Enquiries before travelling.

Liam Sumpter, oute director for Network Rail Scotland, said: “Our teams are working hard to repair damage to the seawall near Brora caused during the recent storms.

“We know how important it is to reopen the Far North Line as quickly as possible, but safety is our top priority.

“We want to thank passengers for their patience and understanding while we carry out this vital work.”

David Simpson, Scotrail’s service delivery director, said: “We’re sorry to customers for the disruption they’ll experience, and thank them for their patience while this vital repair work is completed.

“The safety of our customers and our colleagues is our top priority, so it’s essential that the damaged sections of seawall are repaired before we re-introduce rail services.

“To keep customers moving, we’ll be running trains between Inverness and Lairg, and between Wick and Forsinard, with replacement bus services connecting journeys through the affected area.”

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