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AmcoGiffen and Network Rail complete emergency repairs to slope failure on Glasgow South Western Line

AmcoGiffen successfully completed emergency repairs to a slope failure on the Glasgow South Western (GSW) Line in rural Dumfries & Galloway last week for Network Rail, with the line re-opened, returning services for passengers and freight customers, and bringing to an end 5 weeks of continuous engineering activity delivered in challenging conditions following Storms Dennis and Ciara.

The section of non-electrified line at Auldgirth had been shut since Monday 10th February 2020, after Storm Ciara’s 90mph winds and extreme rainfall caused the nearby River Nith to erode the embankment supporting the railway, resulting in a landslip. Abellio ScotRail introduced a replacement bus service between Kilmarnock and Dumfries as an interim measure with freight traffic diverted via the West Coast Main Line.

Detailed examination of the landslip by Network Rail engineers confirmed the extent of the damage, and immediately, working with AmcoGiffen, moved to develop a programme to restore the estimated 1,700t landslip along a 50m stretch of track sitting 10m above the water.


Working round the clock in this constrained environment to restore the railway – clearing debris, reconstructing the embankment and reinstating the track-bed and all associated infrastructure, AmcoGiffen and Network Rail were able to reopen as planned on Monday 16th March 2020.

Enabling works were required to gain access from the railway to the failed area of the slip at the bottom of the steep embankment. These works included advanced tree felling using roped access operatives, installation of 500 tonnes of stone to create a temporary access ramp, and creation of a working platform to facilitate the stabilisation works.

A total 6,000 tonnes of rock was imported from two local quarries using the road and railway, and transported to the base of the slip via the access ramp. This haulage of stone was undertaken by a combination of road rail vehicles, tracked dumpers and excavators, all working together in challenging conditions to pass the materials to the face of the works. AmcoGiffen teamed up with local suppliers and subcontractors to battle through Storm Dennis and deliver the works to programme.

The AmcoGiffen Project Manager Jim Fairgrieve offered thanks to all those involved in the operation, noting that the success of the project could be attributed to the effectiveness of the various companies working collaboratively to achieve a common goal.

Attracting considerable public interest, Michael Matheson MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity visited the site to review progress and to meet the team overseeing the repairs and commented on the scale of the challenge faced in reopening the line swiftly in what at times, was very challenging weather conditions.

Critical to our ability to provide this effective emergency response service for Network Rail across the Scotland Route is our mobile, motivated and high skilled direct delivery teams and our established subcontractors and suppliers supply chain who mobilise at short notice.

Alan Kane, Regional Manager for Scotland commented: “AmcoGiffen’s work at Auldgirth is a further demonstration of our ability to deliver effective emergency response services for Network Rail in Scotland. Our people and supply chain continually meet the challenges they face with total commitment; always doing their very best to keeping Scotland’s Railway moving.”

Photo credits: Network Rail

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