Tragedy at Carmont is stark reminder of need for infrastructure resilience

The derailment of a ScotRail service at Carmont, near Stonehaven, in which three people died tragically demonstrates the need for Network Rail to make sure that railway assets are resilient to the impacts of extreme weather and climate change.

Friday, 16th July 2021, 11:13 am
Network Rail needs to make sure that railway assets are resilient to the impacts of extreme weather and climate change.
Network Rail needs to make sure that railway assets are resilient to the impacts of extreme weather and climate change.

That was one of the findings of the Office of Rail and Road’s annual assessment of Network Rail Scotland’s performance in 2020-21, which highlighted a difficult year for the region.

The Covid-19 pandemic also had a significant impact. While passenger train performance has improved significantly, reduced income and higher costs have impacted on the region’s funding.

Passenger train service punctuality and reliability also improved, largely due to fewer services and passengers, but punctuality of freight services declined. Severe weather had a significant impact on passenger and freight service performance. Delays caused by severe weather in Scotland rose by 26 per cent in 2020-21 compared with the previous year.

Liz McLeod, ORR’s Senior Regulation Manager for Network Rail Scotland, said: "This year, more than ever, has demonstrated the need for Network Rail Scotland to deliver on its commitments for a more resilient railway.

“In 2020-21, there were some significant incidents following severe weather, most notably the derailment at Carmont which resulted in the deaths of the train’s driver, its conductor and one passenger, and injuries to six passengers.

"My thoughts remain with the families and friends of everyone affected. Our formal investigation with Police Scotland and the British Transport Police continues.

“Network Rail Scotland has demonstrated strong collaboration with industry partners and its funder, Transport Scotland, to identify improvements to sustain the high levels of performance experienced throughout the pandemic as restrictions ease.

"While train performance has been very good, there is a risk that performance will drop as passengers and services return. Network Rail needs to maintain cross-industry collaboration to retain performance improvements.”