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Highland Line beating the severe weather


By Tom Ramage

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One of the best periods of performance during autumn for more than eight years has seen nine out of 10 trains arriving on time on Scotland’s Railway.

Despite the challenges of the autumn weather, including heavy rain and strong winds affecting the network, figures released today show that 89.3 per cent of trains met the rail industry standard public performance measure from October 18 to November 14.

Getting through: a ScotRail train negotiates a pass at Glentruim in Badenoch
Getting through: a ScotRail train negotiates a pass at Glentruim in Badenoch

Continuing the recent trend across the country, the performance has improved by almost five per cent year on year, a company spokesperson said, and is the third best October-November performance since 2012/13.

As a result, ScotRail’s Moving Annual Average has increased to 90.7%, the highest figure for almost two years.

Teams of engineers across Scotland’s Railway have worked around the clock to prepare trains and tracks for autumn and winter weather. One of their biggest challenges was keeping tracks clear of leaves and debris to ensure customers were kept on the move.

Millions of pounds were invested in rail-head treatment trains which clean tracks and coat them with a special adhesive to help trains keep their grip and stop more quickly. Leaf-busters clear debris directly from the rails and ScotRail trains’ wheels are cleaned at depots.

Scotland’s Railway is ready to deploy its £1 million ‘Winter Train’ which has specialist heat-lances and hot air blowers to melt snow and ice. A fleet of 10 snow ploughs is also standing by supported by a helicopter unit which uses thermal imaging to identify spots where severe weather could take hold.

Operations director David Simpson said: “These latest figures show the hard work of everyone across Scotland’s Railway to maintain the high level of performance, helping to deliver a vital service for key workers during the pandemic.”

“There’s been a lot for the public and the rail network to contend with over the last few months. The challenge of the coronavirus and very heavy rainfall and storms in October and November have all made it difficult to keep our customers moving.

“But we have again delivered for our customers and we look forward to continue providing them with a critical service in the coming weeks and months.”



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