Network Rail to Begin Recovery of Stonehaven Derailment Wreckage

Network Rail will begin work to reopen the railway line near Stonehaven this week and recover the carriages involved in the derailment.

The train from Aberdeen to Glasgow derailed on 12 August after hitting a landslip, causing the driver, the conductor and one of six passengers to lose their lives.

Specialist engineers will use a 600t crawler crane to lift the derailed carriages from the railway over the next few days. For this to happen, Network Rail and contractors have had to do a huge amount fo work to prep the site. The remoteness of the derailment site makes this a complex undertaking. So far, they have built a 900m road and a temporary bridge across the neighbouring farmland so that the lifting equipment can be brought to the site.

Stonehaven derailment preparatory works
Preparatory works for the recovery of the train carriages involved in the Stonehaven derailment

The plans to remove the vehicles – an operation which will likely take a number of days – have been developed in collaboration with the police, accident investigators and other partner agencies.

Alex Hynes, Managing Director, Scotland’s Railway, said:

“August 12 was a devastating day with the loss of Brett, Donald and Christopher in this tragic accident.

“While we will now begin the process of recovering the carriages and repairing the railway, we do so with a heavy heart.

“We will continue to work closely with the Rail Accident Investigation Branch throughout this recovery process so we can learn from this terrible event and help prevent similar accidents.”

Once the carriages have been moved, engineers will be able to determine the repairs to the damaged tracks and bridge that will be needed. It will be after this assessment that a timescale for reopening the railway line can be given. Current estimates suggest the line will remain closed for a number of weeks.

During this time ScotRail is running a shuttle service between Aberdeen and Stonehaven. The service calls at Aberdeen, Portlethen and Stonehaven and some services are extended to start or finish at Inverurie or Dyce.

The Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, Michael Matheson, visited the derailment site on 7 September, during which he expressed his condolences and sympathy to the families and friends of those affected. He also discussed the ongoing investigation.

Michael Matheson:

“I’m here today to understand the scale of the work being undertaken and to show my, and the Scottish Government’s, continued support for those involved in the investigation, recovery and service restoration.

“The RAIB investigation will ensure that any safety lessons are learned quickly and I will be interested to hear what comes of this and how Network Rail can take these forward in the future. An investigation of this type is so comprehensive and it will now take time to restore the site of the incident so rail services can be reintroduced as soon as possible.

“As we move towards the recovery phase and given the scale of this enormous challenge I would like to thank all those involved for their efforts undertaken at the site.”

Following the Stonehaven derailment, Network Rail immediately inspected hundreds of earthworks in Britain that are classed as higher risk. These inspections were conducted by NR’s own engineers as well as specialist contractors and were complemented by helicopter surveys.

Furthermore, Network Rail has set up two different task forces – a weather action taskforce and an earthworks management taskforce – to help it plan its long-term strategy to cope with climate change and the associated challenge of maintaining earthworks (cuttings and embankments), many of which date back to Victorian times.

Network Rail’s budget for earthworks and drainage is 1.3 billion GBP for CP6. The regulator ORR determines how Network Rail spends its money.

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