Borders rail lorries mud turns road into quagmire

Private hire driver John Logan cleans his car. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Private hire driver John Logan cleans his car. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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LORRIES working on a major rail project are turning roads into a muddy quagmire – prompting outraged calls for a clean-up amid fears motorists could be killed.

Slurry slipping from HGVs working on the Borders rail project has been blamed for turning the A7 into a dangerous hazard for motorists.

Community groups say it is only a matter of time before a serious accident occurs, while Network Rail chiefs have hit back – insisting a small fleet of cleaning vehicles are helping keep the road clear .

One affected local, private hire car driver John Logan, 57, questioned why basic washing equipment was not being used to clean vehicle wheels before they used the A7.

He said: “The lorries are doing about 50-60mph and throwing up mud. Your windscreen wipers cannot cope with it. It’s a danger. They’ve got silly wee road sweepers that are just brushing water across the road. It’s leaving a big brown soup.

“My car was clean this 
morning, but I picked up two school kids and it was absolutely black afterwards from filthy muck.”

Sections of the road near Falahill – south of the new Gorebridge station – and Stow are among the worst affected. Regular road users have voiced fears about skidding and poor visibility, with reports of large trucks thundering along the route flinging mud air-born.

The lorries are being used to transport earth away from the £350 million rail link, which will connect Edinburgh Waverley to Tweedbank.

Contractor BAM Nuttall has been inundated with complaints and a senior management meeting was due to be held yesterday afternoon to discuss the “terrible” road conditions.

First Scotland East has also held direct talks with Network Rail to complain about the road. It is currently being forced to clean its vehicles using the A7 twice a day – an increase of 50 per cent.

In the meantime, Police Scotland have ordered contractors to put up road signs along the A7 warning motorists of muddy conditions, and Heriot and Stow community councils have labelled the state of 
the road as “untenable”.

Stow Councillor Sandy Aitchison said: “I drove up the A7 three times this past week. It is not possible to see white lines and it does feel slippery to drive upon and cars look awful with mud and smelly clinging filth. Number plates on trucks cannot be seen to detect the offenders, as we are asked to so do.”

Heavy traffic from lorries working on the Borders Railway is expected to continue through until at least late next year, when line testing starts.

Under the Highways Act 1980, it is an offence to “deposit mud on the road” and people like farmers are required to take precautionary measures. This includes cleaning mud from vehicles, hiring equipment to clean up accidental deposits and travelling at low speeds.

A Network Rail spokesman: “We have 11 cleaning vehicles in operation on a daily basis along the route to address any material coming from our lorries and are also assessing what further mitigation measures could be taken to help limit any impact from our works.”

3500 tonnes of rock recycled per daY

ABOUT 3500 tonnes of rock has been recycled every day from excavation works and blasting at Falahill.

Contractors working on the Borders Railway project have recycled about 145,000 tonnes of material taken from the site south of the new Gorebridge station since September.

The rubble is being used to help construct other parts of the rail link, including building roads, stabilising slopes, creating retaining walls and for the new railway bed itself.

More than 500,000 tonnes of earth has also been removed from the site for the new Shawfair station in Midlothian.

Once finished, the rail link will cover 35 miles.