Michael Matheson, Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity visited the site of the landslip beneath the railway between Kilmarnock and Dumfries to review progress and thank the teams for their efforts to get the line open again.
The section of line near Holywood in Dumfries & Galloway has been shut since Monday February 10 after Storm Ciara’s 90mph winds and extreme rainfall caused the nearby River Nith to erode an embankment beneath the railway.
Detailed examination of the landslip by specialist engineers confirmed the extent of the damage and have developed a programme to repair the 1,700 ton landslip beneath a 50m stretch of track.
As work nears completion, Michael Matheson Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP), visited the site of the slip to get and update on work and to meet the team undertaking the repairs.
He said “The team at Auldgirth have been on site for four weeks now repairing what was a major landslide, on the line between Thornhill and Dumfries that happened during the course of Storm Ciara.
“They've been working 24 hours a day, seven days a week and are making tremendous progress and we are hoping to get it complete in the coming days so the line can re-open for passenger services.
“I very much appreciate the work that Network Rail has been undertaking here as it is a difficult job in a very limited amount of space and I thank everyone who has worked through horrible weather conditions to get the job done.”
Tom Podger, Network Rail’s project manager for the reinstatement work said: “Flooding caused by Storm Ciara has led to significant damage beneath the track and we needed to rebuild the supporting embankment before reinstating and re-opening the line.
“The landslip is located in a difficult location above the river and the remoteness of the site presented a challenge in getting equipment and materials to the site.
“We have moved 6000 tonnes of rock into place to both rebuild the embankment and to form a protective barrier between the railway and the river and are continuing to work as quickly as possible to get the line re-opened for customers.”
To keep passengers moving, ScotRail services will continue to run between Dumfries and Carlisle and between Kilmarnock and Glasgow, with a replacement bus operating between Dumfries and Kilmarnock.
Passengers with ScotRail tickets may travel on Avanti West Coast and TransPennine services between Carlisle and Glasgow Central, via Lockerbie.
It is anticipated that the line will re-open Monday March 16.