Storm Babet: Disruption to rail services in Fife to continue into Monday
The rail operator says the impact of Storm Babet in the Kingdom has led to a “huge number of challenges”. Very few trains have been able to run in the worst affected areas since Thursday and that has been compounded by an unprecedented level of leaf fall which makes tracks very slippery, along with fallen trees and other debris across the rails.
The heat and weight of trains running over the leaves at the weekend have baked them into a thin, slippery layer on the rail, which is the railway equivalent of black ice on the road and means it’s not safe to run trains.
Network Rail engineers are cleaning the rails using a ‘leaf-buster’ train, which clears the top of the rail by blasting it with a high pressure water jet to clear leaf mulch. A sandy gel is applied behind the train that helps the train wheels grip the tracks.
As a result, Network Rail has advised ScotRail that there will be disruption to services first thing on Monday. The first trains to carry passengers in Fife on Monday will depart Perth to Edinburgh, via Kirkcaldy, at 6.19am and Glenrothes to Edinburgh via Cowdenbeath at 6.58am.
Confirmed cancellations are 5.30am Edinburgh to Aberdeen; 5.40am Dundee to Edinburgh; 5.57am Kirkcaldy to Edinburgh; 6am Glenrothes to Edinburgh; 6am Perth to Edinburgh; 6.18am Edinburgh to Glenrothes and 6.48am Edinburgh to Glenrothes. ScotRail has advised there will be further cancellations and delays to later services on Monday so customers should regularly check the ScotRail website, app and social media for updates.
The line between Aberdeen and Dundee currently remains closed to services too.
Scott Prentice, ScotRail interim commercial director, said: “The vast majority of services will operate as normal on Monday, and we look forward to welcoming passengers to take advantage of our off-peak all day trial. Unfortunately we are still seeing some extremely challenging conditions on the rail network in Fife, the northeast, and the far north caused by the most rainfall experienced in Scotland since 1891. Network Rail is working hard to clear debris, including fallen trees, and they are using special ‘leaf busting’ trains to clear leaf mulch that has made lines in these areas extremely slippery.
"Our first priority is always the safety of customers and staff, and we won’t run services until we are absolutely sure the lines are safe. We thank customers for their continuing understanding and patience following Storm Babet in many parts of Scotland and we can assure them that we are doing everything possible to get the last remaining route closures open as quickly as possible.”