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Wednesday, 27 December, 2000, 15:56 GMT
Rail project on right track
Fort William
The turntable has travelled to Fort William
A marathon operation is now under way to enable trains to run more smoothly on an historic railway line.

The rail turntable has made the 400-mile trip from the heart of London to Fort William in the Scottish Highlands and is expected to be fully operational by the spring.

But the 300,000 project has not been without its difficulties.


This is a great day for the Highlands, particularly Mallaig

Charlie King, trust chairman
UK Transport Minister Lord Macdonald had to step in and give his approval for the closure of a route for emergency vehicles while the turntable was lifted out of Marylebone Station in June.

And animal welfare officers were called to rescue a moorhen and her chick from the structure before it could be taken away.

The 63-year-old turntable was donated to the West Highland Rail Heritage Trust by Railtrack.

It was repaired by sub-contractors Rolls-Royce at its plant in Leigh, Greater Manchester, before completing the journey to the Highlands.

Centenary year

The turntable will reduce wear and tear on the line's steam engines by ending the need for them to travel in reverse.

It is one of a series of refurbishment plans by the trust to mark next year's centenary of the Fort William to Mallaig stretch of the line.

The heritage trust is currently trying to raise funds for its next project - installing another turntable at Mallaig.

Chairman Charlie King said: "This is a great day for the Highlands, particularly Mallaig which depends heavily on a strong tourism presence to support local shops and visitor attractions."

Trust director Lord Lindsay added: "The trust team are totally committed to preserving the area's rich railway heritage for locals and visitors to enjoy.

"We look forward to seeing the turntable in action next spring and will do our best to ensure that the Mallaig turntable follows a year later."

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21 Dec 00 | UK
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19 Nov 00 | Scotland
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