Dalwhinnie residents have been urged to avoid the railway line at Ben Alder as Network Rail engineers are working to repair the line following a derailment.
The route between Perth and Inverness has been closed since Saturday morning after a train derailed during testing near Dalwhinnie at 3.10am.
It was travelling south when the last two carriages derailed.
It is understood some of the tests being carried out at the time included examining the stepping distances from the train doors to the platforms and the length of the train.
Network Rail staff and engineers are now working around the clock to re-rail the power car and coach before undertaking track and signalling repairs.
Re our previous post:The line will remain closed until Wednesday 14th April, so it’s still best to check before travelling.
The line may remain shut until Wednesday, although Network Rail could not give an estimated time when it could reopen.
No one should be attempting to cross the Ben Alder rail line until further notice, with access to the Ben Alder Estate restricted in that direction.
The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) is investigating the cause of this incident, and have sent inspectors to visit the site.
RAIB is deploying inspectors to gather evidence following the #derailment of a test train at #Dalwhinnie on the Highland Line in Scotland. The train consisted of a short-form HST that was travelling south when the last two vehicles derailed in proximity to points.
— RAIB (@raibgovuk) April 10, 2021
Local councillor Muriel Cockburn is concerned about how this incident happened but was relieved that no one was injured.
She said: “I’m a bit concerned about what happened as I’d like to see some more details about what was being tested on that route and why.
“Nobody was injured, which is the main thing.
“However, it would be good to find out more about what caused the derailment, and any safety concerns that Network Rail has about the route that led them to do the testing.
“I’m waiting for a detailed report about this, as I feel we need to reassure the public that their rail transport is safe and that this incident will cause no lasting damage.”
Replacement buses are being put on between Perth and Inverness for those making essential journeys.
This will be the case until the rail line is able to reopen.
However, there has been no news about the freight services that use the route, with supermarkets sending products on that line.
Ms Cockburn added: “Residents in Dalwhinnie have contacted me as they are really concerned about this closure as the route is used for freights from supermarkets that need to be opened and sent at certain times.
“They are asking whether there will be shortages and if the freight will now be moved on a different route to get to where it needs to go.
“We need more detail but I expect Network Rail to give us that when they can.”
A Network Rail spokesman confirmed that work is continuing on-site to repair the line but that they can not estimate when it will reopen.
He said: “Work is continuing on-site to re-rail the rear power car and coach which were derailed on Saturday.
“Once that process is complete, there will be track and signalling repairs needed before we can reopen the line.
“We’re working as quickly as possible to re-rail the train, but we can’t put an exact estimate on reopening the line at this time.”