Recently, 1,100 new rails, each 60 feet long, were shipped to far north of Scotland by – ship!

The railway is one of its own best customers. Network Rail moves ballast around the network in big open-topped wagons, while steel rails also travel by train – which can be quite an interesting article when those rails are 108 metres long and have to bend to allow the trains to go around corners.

But sometimes rail isn’t the best way to transport the heavy loads that the industry needs.

RMS Laar sailed into Scrabster harbour on 27 February with the rails on board, which will be used to renew 6.5 miles of the Far North line’s Thurso branch, from Thurso station to Georgemas Junction. Work started in March.

Network Rail estimates that the nautical delivery by sea has saved 110 journeys by road and reduced carbon emissions by approximately 200 tonnes.

Alex Sharkey, Network Rail area director for Scotland East, said: “As an industry we are 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.”