Village of the jammed! Highlanders say they’ve been trapped for days
For villagers in tiny Bunchrew, the 15-minute drive to nearby Inverness for essentials is usually a simple enough trip.
But some locals say they have been ‘trapped’ at home for days by rail works which have closed off the only access road for many residents.
The vital route was shut down this week because of a £1.2million upgrade to the level crossing, which is expected to last seven days.
Villagers who need to brave the journey from the Englishton and Kirkton Muir areas are forced to take detours – with queues of up to two hours to access their homes.
The only other route in and out of the area involves driving along an eight-mile forest path and a single-track road with a locked gate, which locals say would be difficult even for 4x4 vehicles.
The level-crossing at Bunchrew, near Inverness, which has been closed for essential repairs, cutting off residents who now need to make a detour through a local forest to reach the main road or wait for a short window when the crossing opens to let the traffic through
Residents are in favour of the essential works but ‘windows’ when the crossing is open have been beset by difficulties.
Villager Bill Bryan said the few occasions it was open only lasted for up to 55 minutes at a time.
He added: ‘Personally speaking, the biggest problem has been the medical situation.
My wife was due for an appointment at the doctors in Beauly yesterday, but she couldn’t make it.’
Margaret Harkins wrote on Facebook: ‘I find it very hard to understand how Network Rail and Highland Council thought it was a good idea to close the one and only road and footpath out of a sizable community of residents in the Highlands without due notice.’
One desperate local considered walking through a forest and crossing a burn in the dark to get home from work on Monday. Helen Hutchinson said: ‘There is no path. It would be like Indiana Jones going through a forest.’
Resident David Gordon described sitting in a two-hour queue on Monday along with 25 others who were trying to leave Bunchrew, adding: ‘None of us had been given any prior notice to this.’
Councillor David Fraser said there had been a ‘lack of communication’ over the works.
He added: ‘Households close to the level crossing were made aware of the work, but families further up the road weren’t and there have been problems.’
Highland Council said the works had been agreed on the understanding a consultation would take place with the community.
A spokesman added: ‘The council is aware of comments made by residents and will review the permit for works if a level of access cannot be maintained.’
A Network Rail spokesman apologised for the inconvenience, adding: ‘The crossing is open during certain times, and outside of the arranged crossing times, we’ll work to allow those needing access to cross when possible.’FacebookNetwork Rail