Snow ploughs will return to the railway line between Keith and Inverurie today after trains were stopped in their tracks by 6ft-high drifts.
Network Rail said its patrol locomotive was unable to carry on with its journey after encountering the snow drifts, which were also estimated to be around 160ft long.
Numerous roads in the north-east remain closed after a weekend of chaotic weather conditions.
Dozens of motorists were left stranded in Huntly overnight after the A96 was closed due to snow drifts.
A statement from Network Rail Scotland said: “We’ve been working to clear snowdrifts between Keith and Inverurie on the Aberdeen – Inverness line.
“Our patrol locomotive has encountered drifts 6ft high and 164ft long and couldn’t make it through.
We've been working to clear snowdrifts between Keith and Inverurie on the Aberdeen – Inverness line. Our patrol locomotive has encountered drifts 6ft high and 50m long and couldn't make it through. Now, we're arranging to use our Independent ploughs today on the route. /1 pic.twitter.com/4LhX1B0jVc
— Network Rail Scotland (@NetworkRailSCOT) February 15, 2021
“Now, we’re arranging to use our independent ploughs today on the route.”
The Far North Line also remains closed between Ardgay and Wick because of snow.
The rail operator said it hopes to have it open as quickly as possible after clearing the section between Inverness and Ardgay.
The winter train
In recent years, Scotland’s Railway – a partnership between rail networks including Scotrail, Transport Scotland and Network Rail – made new investments to help support the network.
The £1million winter train is designed to melt snow and ice that builds up on key sections of track using heat-lances and hot air blowers.
The specialist train, which is based in Perth and unique to Scotland, is key to thawing critical infrastructure that will allow staff to re-open lines more quickly.
Supporting the star member of the train partnership’s cast is a fleet of 10 snow ploughs based in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Motherwell and Inverness.
These are used to clear deep lying snow and a helicopter fitted with thermal imaging cameras is used to identify frozen infrastructure to the rail maintenance teams.
Aberdeen City Council’s warning as snow melts
The recent rise in temperatures will bring about its own set of problems.
Sepa has issued flood alerts for most of the north and north-east which will remain in place until Wednesday.
Aberdeen City Council has also warned people that we are not out of the woods yet.
A statement from the council said: “Despite the thaw in most places overnight, we still have snow drifts lying on some of the rural roads so we’re continuing to dig them out today.
Despite the thaw in most places overnight, we still have snow drifts lying on some of the rural roads so we're continuing to dig them out today. Road surface and air temps are well above 0C and rising so remaining snow or ice will continue to melt today.
Please take care ❄️ pic.twitter.com/GoktFlfa0T
— Aberdeen City Council (@AberdeenCC) February 15, 2021
“Road surface and air temps are well above 0C and rising so remaining snow or ice will continue to melt today.”