Ritual burial at Armdale?

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Still from time-lapse photography film shot by Network Rail at Bathgate during July 2008, when the Bathgate and Edinburgh line was closed for 16 days. During this time 200 staff, shifted 12,500 tonnes of ballast, laid 3,000 metres of track and fitted 12 points.

(Click picture to view video.)

The £300m Airdrie to Bathgate Rail Link Project is one of Network Rail’s flagship investments in Scotland. The project will reinstate the Bathgate and Coatbridge Railway between Airdrie and Bathgate, which was closed to passengers in 1956 and to freight in 1982. It will link the North Clyde Line of the Glasgow suburban railway network, which currently stops 2km beyond Airdrie at Drumgelloch, to the Edinburgh to Bathgate Line.

The line will be double-tracked and electrified from Edinburgh to Glasgow and passengers will be able to travel from Edinburgh Waverley station to Glasgow Queen Street Low Level in 74 minutes. It will provide a fourth rail link between Glasgow and Edinburgh, complementing the existing 50 minute “shuttle” services which run via Falkirk.

The project also involves a £7.3m diversion of National Cycle Route 75. After the Airdrie-Bathgate line was closed in 1982, 16 km of  railway line became a public footpath and cycle track. This section was closed on 19th October 2008 to allow work to begin on the reinstatement of the line. It is planned that by the end of 2010 a new cycle path will run alongside the reopened railway line, connecting local communities to new stations along the route.

Although the new railway is being built on the track of the old, a £ 3.8m contract was awarded to Norwest Holst Soil Engineering to carry out ground and site Investigations. Given the need to minimise risk and comply with modern environmental legislation – a not unreasonable decision. So it is with some incredulity that we read an article in the Daily Express that Network Rail contractor Carillion – who won a £80 million contract for works on the line – lost a £40,000 mechanical excavator in a peat bog near Armdale!

It is reasonable to ask the question, how did Norwest Holst’s soil engineers manage to miss this little bog? Perhaps they were running late and decided to skip forward a bit? Or were Carillion just too busy to read Norwest Holst’s report?

However, accidents do happen and, faced with a 20 ton excavator buried up to its roof, not many of us would know what to do. Carillion’s workmen have to be congratulated for coming up with an unusual solution. They covered the remains with branches! Unfortunately the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency does not see things the same way and has now launched an investigation over fears that pollutants inside the machine could seep out.

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