Network Rail begin to carefully recover the carriages involved in last month’s tragic derailment at Stonehaven.
Driver Brett McCullough, 45, conductor Donald Dinnie, 58, and passenger Christopher Stuchbury, 62, died when the 6.38am ScotRail service from Aberdeen to Glasgow Queen Street train crashed into a landslide across the tracks near Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire, on August 12 following heavy rain.
Over the next couple of days, specialist engineers will be using a 600-tonne crawler crane to lift the derailed carriages from the railway.
Network Rail and contractors have already carried out a huge amount of work at the site to prepare for the operation – including building a new 900-metre road and a temporary bridge to allow for lifting equipment to transport to the site.
Plans developed alongside the police, accident investigators and other partner agencies are now in place to remove the vehicles in a delicate process.
Once the carriages have been removed from the site, engineers will be able to fully assess the extent of damage done and see what repairs are required on the tracks and bridge.
No exact timescales can be placed on the reopening of the line until thorough inspections are completed by Network Rail.
Immediately after the incident, hundreds of sites nationwide with high-risk trackside slopes, similar to Stonehaven, were inspected.
These inspections were carried out by both Network Rail engineers and specialist contractors, supplemented by helicopter surveys.
Alex Hynes, Managing Director of 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.”
Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, Michael Matheson said following a visit to the site: “My thoughts continue to remain with the family and friends of those affected by this tragic incident. 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.”
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