THE multi-million pound extension to Saltcoats’ seawall can do little to stop disruption to trains, it has been confirmed.

Waves, debris and sea-spray can still find their way on to the line during stormy weather and it has left bosses at Network Rail scratching their heads as to how to stop the constant cancellations.

Last week saw hours of delays for commuters who fork out hundreds of pounds every year.

A case study carried out by Arcon Supplies looked specifically at the extension, which was finally finished in 2016 after a series of delays, and it highlighted that it was ‘sought to enhance flood defences to prevent damage and flooding on [the] Ayrshire Coast Line rail route’.

It explained that engineers designed wave-shaped precast concrete units that could be fitted to the top of the existing sea wall to deflect waves back out to sea but Network Rail conceded that there is little they can do to stop the water reaching the electric power lines.

A Network Rail spokesperson said: “The old seawall was in poor condition and was replaced to prevent severe weather eventually undermining the structure and causing it to collapse – potentially damaging the railway.

“The new recurve wall has been designed to reduce the force of the waves, and to push some of the water back out to sea, but it cannot completely prevent windborne sea-spray from hitting the overhead power equipment.

“The sea-spray can cause the overhead power to fail and can also contain debris, which could damage trains, and closing the line in extreme conditions protects the safety of staff and passengers.”

Conservative MSP Jamie Greene hit out: “It’s incredibly disappointing to hear that a seawall that was only built a couple of years ago, and paid for by the Scottish taxpayer, is already failing its purpose. This raises some serious questions over the long-term planning around this issue.

“People rely on the trains every day and it is a necessary service for many people in North Ayrshire.

“Given the amount of rain we get in Saltcoats, the seawall at the train station must be effective.”

Cunninghame North’s MSP Kenneth Gibson said: “I have been in contact with Network Rail a number of times over the years regarding this ongoing problem.

“To be fair, they have taken forward local concerns, most significantly in 2016 when they invested £6 million in a new seawall at Saltcoats to try and reduce the difficulties.

“This certainly improved the situation but Network Rail does not believe there is a short-term solution that completely eliminates this problem.

“I will continue to press them on this important matter.”