IAN BLACKFORD:MP for Ross, Skye & Lochaber

Local action and Scottish Government intervention made Stromeferry resolution possible, says Ian Blackford MP.


Ross, Skye and Lochaber MP, Ian Blackford has warmly welcomed changes to operations of the road closure on the A890 Stromeferry Bypass, informing stakeholders that a resolution would not have been possible without the actions of local people and Scottish Government intervention.

‘Road-on-rail’ diversion measures previously deployed on the stretch of road, in which vehicles are convoyed onto the adjacent railway line, had seen consistent, and long, waits at the bypass. However, following constructive talks, adjustments to operations at the site of the closure look likely to go ahead, in the expectation that this will ease the dreadful waiting times.

It is believed that Network Rail and the Office of Rail and Road, have agreed a new operations document for an alternative signalling system. This will involve installation of fixed signals and a magnet warning system on the rail line approaching the site.

The new system will require trains to stop at an agreed upon point adjacent to the site. The train driver will communicate with the signaller who will then contact the controller of site safety (coss). Trains will then proceed through the works when the signaller instructs the train. The road rail bypass can then re-open when agreed by the coss/signaller. It is hoped that this will allow longer opening times based on the train schedule rather than the existing long token section.

Ian Blackford, who sought direct help from Scottish Transport Secretary, Michael Matheson MSP, over the fiasco, commented:

“This has the potential to be great news and work now must be put in place to make these plans a reality. I would like to put on record my gratitude to Network Rail for listening to concerns of the local community and of representatives like myself”

“Despite matters relating to Network Rail being reserved to Westminster, I knew the best hope was for the Scottish Government to try and make clear that the sorry state of affairs that we have all witnessed, couldn’t be allowed to continue. Let me be frank, these changes would not have been possible without the intervention of the Scottish Government’s Transport Secretary, Michael Matheson MSP. I spoke with him directly, appealed for support and I’m extremely grateful for his help in finding a solution”

“The local communities deserve a huge amount of credit as well. Local representatives have campaigned tirelessly and have sought to keep people informed when information wasn’t always forthcoming from Highland Council”

“I hope now that we can move forward from what has been an extremely trying situation for local communities.”