ScotRail’s Dumbarton-bound and Helensburgh trains cancelled due to flooding

Rest and Be Thankful blocked yet again

By Democrat reporter

ScotRail’s Dumbarton-bound and Helensburgh trains cancelled due to flooding, and the road to Argyll closed by landslides.

Tuesday saw the worst day of this miserable summer with rail and road passengers stranded after roads and railways became impassable.

People across West Dunbartonshire and South Argyll had to find alternative ways to get home from work in the late afternoon.

People making their way from Edinburgh to Glasgow were told that all services had been brought to a halt by the incessant downpour which saw roads running like rivers.

ScotRail announced shortly after 5pm on Tuesday that the line was shut between Helensburgh Central and Cardross as a result of the rain, which was exacerbated by high winds blowing in off the River Clyde.

The train operator said disruption to services was expected until the end of the day.

The disruption came just a day after ScotRail introduced a near-normal service across the country, with 90 per cent of services running for the first time since before the Covid-19 lockdown in March.

Image may contain: sky, bridge, outdoor and water
The A82 between Dunglass roundabout and Dumbuck was badly flooded. Picture by Michael Moffat

Following a day of heavy rain across large parts of Scotland, the West Highland line linking Glasgow with Oban, Fort William and Mallaig was also closed because of a landslide between Helensburgh Upper and Garelochhead.

The landslip happened as Argyll was battered by heavy rain on Tuesday

Traffic Scotland said the local Old Military Road, which has previously been used as an alternative route, had also been blocked. 

About 65mm of rainfall is estimated to have fallen at the Rest and Be Thankful over the course of the day.

The area has been plagued by landslips, and £79.2m has been invested in the maintenance of the route since 2007, but without a permanent solution being found.

Geotechnical contractors say it is unsafe to begin clear-up operations

In January the road was closed for two days after being covered by 1,300 tonnes of debris.

Argyll and Bute Council has called for a permanent solution to the problem.

Safety assessments

Specialist geotechnical contractors have carried out initial visual assessments from the roadside but initial indications are that there is still movement on the hillside and it is unsafe to begin clear-up operations or carry out further assessments.

Both the A83 and Old Military Road remained closed overnight.

Safety assessments were resumed at first light on Wednesday and a diversion route was introduced between Tarbet and Cairndow via the A83, A82, A85 and A819. 

Temporary traffic lights are also in place on the A82 at Inveruglas after heavy rain also affected a retaining wall at the hydro station following a day of challenging conditions.

Bear Scotland said ferry provider Western Ferries could accommodate diverted traffic from Gourock to Dunoon.

In March, Transport Scotland said £1.9m was being invested in the construction of a new catch pit on the hillside to improve the resilience of the vital route.

The mitigation measures also included improved drainage and hillside planting.

Transport Scotland previously said work carried out since 2013 was estimated to have kept the A83 open for at least 48 days when it would otherwise have closed.

This includes the October 2018 event, the largest on record, which intercepted approximately 3,200 tonnes of material reaching the A83.

A yellow warning for heavy rain was issued by the Met office for heavy and persistent rain from 06:00 and midnight on Wednesday.

The main areas affected were Mid and North Argyll, Stirlingshire, Lochaber and Southern parts of Skye.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) warned people to prepare for potential flooding around rivers, and to expect surface water in areas in the West of Scotland.

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