Ness Islands Railway preparing to reopen following bridge vandalism

Ness Islands Railway forces to close following vandalism to the popular track.
Ness Islands Railway forces to close following vandalism to the popular track.

A famous children’s railway in Inverness is preparing to reopen this week after it was forced to close due to suspected vandalism.

The 30-year-old Ness Islands Railway was shut down on Friday after a bridge on the route was left with a gaping hole.

Emergency repairs were due to be carried out by railway operator Highland Hospice over the weekend, to enable them to reopen the track ahead of the school holidays. However, following close inspection the damage was found to be worse than initially anticipated.

Andrew Leaver, head of fundraising for the charity explained: “The damage done to the bridge was greater than we originally thought and therefore it’s not worth a temporary repair. We spent the weekend looking at the whole thing and they had a good go at it in one section.”

In an effort to keep operations running, the team have successfully rerouted the train tracks away from the bridge to allow the service to reopen for business from this Friday.

He added: “We have decided that we have rerouted the track so that it misses out the bridge and we can continue to run the train and give people an enjoyable experience without crossing the bridge.

“We should be open for business all things being equal and weather being kind on Friday at the beginning of the school holidays and daily then after.”

The charity is now hopeful to bring forward their planned renovation works to the crossing – costing in the region of £12,000 to £15,000 – to replace all the timbers and repaint the entire structure.

The six week programme of works is being partially funded by a grant awarded by the Inverness City Heritage Trust.

Mr Leaver said: “We had already planned for a full refurbishment of the bridge in September and with the track rerouted now I think we will just do that refurbishment as soon as possible and reopen the bridge.”