PARTS of Scotland are facing being cut off from the rest of the country after the rail network was crippled by floods across the Highlands - with warnings more could be on the way.

Miles of track have either become submerged or washed away near Inverness, Carrbridge, Ardlui, Crianlarich and Oban, bringing major ScotRail travel disruption to and from the area.

It has raised concerns from Railfuture, the better rail services campaign group that the issues illustrated "the lack of resilience of the rail network" and how the nation is able to cope with climate change.

On Tuesday night it emerged that 10 metres of the world famous West Highland Line have been swept away and there has been warnings the section between between Ardlui and Crianlarich and between Crianlarich and Oban will be shut for close to a week.

Further flooding meant that the line between Inverness and Carrbridge and between Keith and Elgin was shut down temporarily on Wednesday.

It comes as both the Met Office and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency have warned of further heavy rain with warnings of even more floods into the early hours of Thursday morning.

SEPA has warned that the rain could lead to further flooding in large parts of Scotland. As of Wednesday afternoon it had 16 flood alerts in place covering the whole of Scotland.

The Met Office's yellow warning alert of heavy showers and thunderstorms covering most of Scotland running into early Thursday morning warned of potential flooding of homes and businesses which "could happen quickly, with damage to some buildings from floodwater, and possibly from lightning strikes or hail".


SEPA's flood map

It warns of further delays and some cancellations to train and bus services and power cuts.

The forecasters say that sudden flooding could lead to difficult driving conditions and some road closures and that "fast flowing or deep floodwater" was possible.

Network Rail Scotland engineers have been working to deal with the flooding problems, which are hitting the Scottish Highland hardest, and teams have been on standby to deal with known flood risk sites.

Roger Blake, Railfuture's national board director for infrastructure and networks said: "Railfuture takes these worsening disruptions as a sign of the growing frequency and severity of extreme weather events, increasingly being attributed to the effects of climate change.

"Whether it’s Scotland or Dawlish on the south Devon coast or the Conway Valley line in Wales or the Settle and Carlisle line – or the dam wall holding the Toddbrook reservoir in Derbyshire – sustained capital investment in infrastructure resilience is required more than ever before."

Engineers have been working to repair the West Highland track at sites around Ardlui, Crianlarich and Tyndrum, where the heavy rain and flooding washed the trackbed from under the railway.

The travel disruption hit the commemorations to celebrate the 125th anniverary of the first passenger train on the West Highland Line which ran out of Fort William at 6.10am on August 7, 1894.

Many did not make the trip because of the concerns over train services running to the Scottish Highlands.

A smaller group of 50 were expected to meet at Fort William railway station for the start of the anniverary event before travelling to Spean Bridge for an anniverary meal.


The Met Office's weather warning map.

The floods have meant that the Caledonian Sleeper service running to either Fort William or Inverness was having to stop up to 70 miles away from its destination.

The London Euston to Inverness services was held up at Kingussie - over 40 miles away - due to the flooding near Carrbridge.

At around 9am it emerged that the service was making the 14 mile trip to Aviemore where road transport to Inverness was being laid on.

By around 11am, Caledonian Sleeper issued an apology to those on the service who were experiencing "an extended wait" for alternate road transport.

ScotRail has told customers that services on the West Highland Line between Glasgow Queen Street and Mallaig and Oban were delayed and would terminate early.

It means that the northbound train would have to terminate at Arrochar or Ardlui - about 60 miles away from Oban. Replacement buses were to be introduced along sections of the line which runs from Glasgow Queen Street to Oban and Mallaig.

But there were concerns that ScotRail have been telling some passengers that buses were limited.

The region has also been hit by landslides on the roads near Loch Ness a day after flooding in Dingwall.

Hege Hernes, secretary of the West Highland Community Rail Partnership said: "The flooding is bad news for the area but it is a one off emergency thing. We are are happy the railways are moving as fast as they can under the circumstances. We are happy to pull together and realise that it is a very tricky situation.

"It is really quite severe flooding that has happened and it has caused some problems for our anniversary celebrations. Some cannot attend becuse they were relying on being taken back to Glasgow by the sleeper.

"ScotRail is running a service of sorts, they are going to Crianlarich and back and then nothing beyond Crianlarich. They are gradually coping and hope more buses are coming on line.

"But it is very hard to get access to the track where the flooding is and we do realise that it is going to take a bit of time."

The West Highland Line is not expected to re-open until Monday at the earliest.

On Tuesday, Network Rail Scotland said: "Flooding over the weekend has caused significant damage at multiple locations along line and we will need to rebuild the track bed and supporting embankments in some locations before we can reopen the [West Highland] line "Work is underway to plan and deliver a fix for the ‘wash away’ sites between Ardlui and Crianlarich and Oban.

"As well as the logistics of a single line in remote location, we are mindful that local weather forecasts are indicating further heavy rainfall in the coming days."