FLOODS and landslides have severed key lowland and Highland transport links, sparking fears Scotland’s rail and road infrastructure is not tough enough to endure climate change.

A major clear-up operation was today set to swing into action after another 24 hours of wild summer weather and ahead of a forecast of three more days of ferocious rain.

The main railway lines from Edinburgh to both Glasgow and Stirling were shut last night thanks to flooding at Winchburgh just outside the capital. 

Read more: Commuters facing rail disruption across Scotland as floods wash away track

Some trains full of passengers were stuck on tracks between Edinburgh and the commuter town of Linlithgow.

Miles of track on the Highland Main and West Highland lines have been either submerged or washed away, devastating ScotRail services north of the central belt.

Elsewhere, speed restrictions were imposed on some Highland roads and a waiting room at Inverness’s hospital was closed as its roof leaked.

In Edinburgh flash flooding gridlocked traffic, disrupted trams and forced a supermarket to close while a church being used as a Fringe venue had to be evacuated after it was struck by lightning.

And there were severe traffic problems in Fife, as storm drains failed to cope with the volume of rain in towns such as Rosyth and Kirkcaldy.

After a record hot July across Europe, Scotland has been hit by successive waves of warmth and rain.

Scientists increasingly warn that extreme weather events will become more frequent as the planet heats.

Experts and policy makers are also worried. Labour MSP David Stewart, who represents the Highlands and Islands, said: “This is becoming a blight on our infrastructure and it’s yet another wake-up call for those who say climate change is just a myth.”


On Tuesday night it emerged that 10 miles of the world famous West Highland Line had been affected, with parts submerged. The section between between Ardlui and Crianlarich and between Crianlarich and Oban will be shut for up to a week. 

Further flooding meant that the line between Inverness and Carrbridge and between Keith and Elgin was shut down temporarily yesterday. That effectively shut off the Highland capital for rail passengers. A massive clear-up operation began after a village near Stirling was left devastated by a massive rockfall, which lifted up cars and smashed into people’s homes, leaving them stranded for days. 

A road at Dores, near Loch Ness, was shut by another landslide yesterday, forcing locals and tourists to find alternative routes. 

The scenic Packhorse Bridge in Carrbridge was almost covered in water as the River Dulnain turned into a raging torrent.

The car park of a hotel in Grangemouth was flooded, leaving cars submerged and motorists stranded. The hotel, a Premier Inn, was partially evacuated.

Read more: Heavy showers and storms set to cause travel chaos across country

Both the Met Office and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa) have warned of further heavy rain with warnings of even more floods into the early hours of this morning.

Sepa said the rain could lead to further flooding in many 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”.

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

Closure of the main Edinburgh to Glasgow line forced ScotRail to urge passengers, including people returning from shows at the Festivals, to take the slower electric route from Waverley through Bathgate to Queen Street low level.


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.

However, the simultaneous wipe-out of both Highland lines has focused minds on the resilience of lifeline services in the most challenging mountainous areas. 

Network Rail Scotland engineers have been working to deal with the flooding problems, and teams have been on standby to deal with known flood risk sites.

Railfuture, the better rail services campaign group said the issues illustrated “the lack of resilience of the rail network”.

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 anniversary 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 anniversary event before travelling to Spean Bridge for an anniversary meal.

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 today.  Some cannot attend because 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.

Flooding in Edinburgh affected some key bus and tram routes with services either diverted or disrupted.

Roads affected included those on the way to the airport. Edinburgh Trams on Twitter warned of “irregular frequencies” and showed a video of its tracks under water at Bankhead.

St Cuthbert’s Church, off the capital’s Lothian Road, was evacuated after it was hit by lightning. It had been hosting a Fringe event by the Cambridge University Operatic Society. 

Edinburgh City Council said it had teams out clearing gullies and drains and warned residents to take care on the roads. 

Last week other parts of Scotland, including Perthshire and Ayrshire, where hit by flooding with major roads like the A77 and A9 affected.

South of the border there has been heavy rain and flooding in the Midlands and North-West. 

Earlier this month there were severe thunderstorms in central Europe, with some flooding. Siberia has been hit by both devastating floods and horrific forest fires. And in Greenland record temperatures have seen billions of tonnes of ice melt in to the sea.