Floods add to disruption
More trains and buses to ease Forth Road Bridge chaos
Mon 8am: More trains and buses have been introduced to help cope with the travel disruption caused the closure of the Forth Road Bridge.
New train services are operating between Cowdenbeath and Haymarket that will add 6,500 seats per day, increasing passenger capacity by 40% while the bridge remains closed until the new year for essential repairs to be carried out.
There will be more than 30 extra buses, providing thousands of extra seats per day as part of an enhanced park and ride priority service between Fife and Edinburgh, using the Ferrytoll and Halbeath sites.
However, commuters have reported being unable to board trains at Inverkeithing as they are already full.
The A985 is open to lorries and buses only between Cairneyhill and the Longannet roundabout.
Motorists travelling north from England are also being encouraged to use routes on the west of the country where possible to ease congestion.
Transport Scotland also confirmed that mobile road signage units were being deployed on all diversion routes to provide journey time information and to keep traffic flowing on the diversion routes.
Businesses will be urged to feed into a conference call on Tuesday on the measures put in place in order that they could be refined in the coming days.
Transport Minister Derek Mackay said: “We know this will be a very difficult time for commuters, businesses and hauliers and we remain extremely grateful for people’s patience while we work on strengthening alternative travel plans and minimise disruption during the closure period.
“Thanks to the hard work of our partners we are able to announce significant additional resources for public transport routes between Fife and Edinburgh.
“This will include additional rolling stock on the train service that will put an additional 6,500 seats a day into operation. Thanks to Stagecoach, we will also be able to rely on an additional 33 buses, bringing thousands of extra seats into operation.
“We are also grateful to the hard work of Police Scotland who have been working with Transport Scotland to ensure that traffic management systems on the diversion routes are robust and can cope with the additional traffic.
“To that end we have delivered ten additional portable information units to these routes that will aid traffic management.
“Commuters will be able to access a dedicated website offering detailed information on these updated travel options
“We will continue to monitor the situation closely and adapt our travel plan as required. While we are doing everything we can to ease the impact on travellers, we would urge people do their bit by considering their travel plans in advance and making any possible contingencies. This could include being more flexible about your work times and locations if possible.
“We also have made contact with the main business organisations in Scotland, local authorities and enterprise areas and are working together to examine the economic and business impact and identify any practical steps that can be taken to mitigate that as much as possible.”
Storm and floods
Motorists have also been forced to contend with extensive flooding across Scotland, including the most significant flooding on the River Tay in 12 years.
On the M90 the local operating company was deployed to pump and clear water. The A82 and M9 have also been affected. On the M8 (W) at Bathgate a lorry struck the central reservation, causing delays.
At the weekend, Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “The Scottish Government’s Resilience Team (SGoRR) has been in contact with the Met Office throughout the week, receiving regular updates on the developing weather system and its potential impacts.
“The predicted weather warnings have been accurate and we are now dealing with a very serious situation. We have seen exceptional rainfall, caused in part by rising temperatures and rapid snow melt, combined with gale force winds.
“It is clear that people across Scotland are experiencing some challenging situations and we will do all we can to help them at this stressful time. Local authorities, Police Scotland, SEPA and resilience teams are all involved in the efforts to mitigate the impacts of flooding and weather issues across the country.
“SEPA have issued numerous flood warnings across the country and we would urge people in those areas to pay attention to the up to date information being provided, consider whether you need to travel and take all possible precautions to stay safe, particularly in the worst affected areas.”
Environment Minister Aileen McLeod said: “The situation is being closely monitored by SEPA, and I would encourage everyone to monitor SEPA’s Floodline website for the latest flood information and to sign up to receive Floodline warnings direct to their phone.
“Our emergency services and an incredible number of volunteers have been out in force today dealing with flooding issues in their local area and we would like to commend their efforts and the important role they play in dealing with this serious situation.”
Marc Becker SEPA’s Duty Hydrology Manager said: “Across Scotland we have seen rivers have risen significantly through Saturday and will remain very high throughout Sunday.
“This is causing widespread agricultural flooding but is now also widely impacting on transport and communities. We are particularly concerned that the flooding situation will deteriorate further this evening in Tayside and particularly the South West of Scotland and the Borders.
“The risk to communities in Hawick and Newcastleton are such that SEPA, in discussion with emergency responders, have issued severe flood warnings for both towns. Impacts will include widespread property flooding, evacuations, damage to infrastructure and severe transport disruption.
“Currently, it is anticipated that the Tay at Perth will peak at levels not seen since 2006 and the Ettrick at Hawick is anticipated to be of a similar scale to the 2005 flood event. Flood levels on the Annan and Esk (Dumfries and Galloway) may also approach record levels.”