Rail replacement on the 6½ mile Thurso to Georgemas branch began in April. It is now more than 50 years since the rails were last replaced - economical railway indeed!
1,100 60' lengths of rail were required and the innovative decision was taken by Network Rail to have them delivered by sea to nearby Scrabster from Rotterdam, after manufacture in Austria. This was estimated to have saved 110 road freight journeys and reduced carbon emissions by around 200 tonnes. Had the proposed Scrabster branch of the Highland Railway been built the rails could have completed their journey by train!
All the £3m upgrade work was carried out overnight to avoid disruption to passengers.
Alex Sharkey, Network Rail Area Director (Network Operations, Scotland East), said: "We are committed to investing in the Far North line and between 2014 and 2019 we will spend over £30m in the area.
"We have already delivered a renewal of the signalling systems on the route and have plans in place to renew track, raise linespeeds over level crossings and improve earthworks and structures.
"As an industry we are also determined to reduce the environmental impact of our activities. This is a wonderful example of how we can do that - taking traffic off the roads and substantially reducing the carbon foot-print of the project."