Motorists in Elgin are bracing themselves for fresh misery when the town’s level crossing is closed off for more than three days later this month.
Network Rail has scheduled improvements for parts of the line just west of the station, to take place from 11.50pm on Friday, May 26, until 5am the following Tuesday.
The work forms part of an £80million scheme which involves upgrading tracks, stations and signals in the north-east.
And the firm has warned residents that things will get worse before they get better, with the crossing closing for 10 days in October.
Elgin Community Council’s Aileen Marshall described the “melee”, which engulfed the south of the town during a similar operation last month.
She said: “That Saturday, when the level crossing was closed, we changed our routine to avoid the traffic melee that was taking place.
“There seemed to be a lot of tailbacks over quite big distances.”
Network Rail’s communications manager, Stacey Macdonald, addressed a meeting of the Elgin community group this week to explain the firm’s plans.
She revealed further measures would be taken to prevent traffic from approaching the crossing when it closed again.
Ms Macdonald said: “I saw some of the traffic build-up around the town last time, on Saturday April 29.
“To stop that from happening again, we will be putting up more advance warning signs at the busiest parts of the town.
“The crossing will be closed for 77 continuous hours later this month, and we are aware of how that affects traffic, but it is unavoidable because we have so much work to get done.”
This will involve digging up ground around the crossing, and is expected to require more than 200 engineers.
The meeting heard that Elgin railway station will also be out of action during that period.
Ms Macdonald added: “We understand that will compound people’s misery, and we won’t even be able to allow pedestrians to use the footbridge.”
Network Rail will again close off the crossing on October 6, whereupon it will remain off limits for 10 days.
But Ms Macdonald reassured community councillors that would be the last of the work.
Group chairman, Alistair Kennedy, argued the upheaval highlighted the need for another crossing to be created over the town’s railway line.