Crofter compensated for cow struck on train tracks near Plockton

Duncan MacLennan with Kate Forbes
Duncan MacLennan with Kate Forbes

Network Rail have compensated a West Highland crofter following a long-running row over liability after a train struck and killed a cow near Plockton last summer.

The unfortunate incident took place on 27th July 2016, when the animal made its way from the common grazing land at Strathie onto the Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh line because of poorly maintained fences alongside the track.

After months of correspondence with Network Rail refusing liability, Kate Forbes MSP took up the case for local farmers Duncan and John MacLennan, and they have now received full compensation for the cow – which had been independently valued at £2,450.

The MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch also called on the rail organisation to expedite repairs on line-side fencing to avoid similar incidents in future.

Kate Forbes said: “I cannot describe how delighted I was when, after months of discussion, debate and correspondence, I finally got confirmation from Network Rail that they would compensate Mr MacLennan for the loss of his cow on the railway line near Plockton.

“I refused to give up because the cow had been valued at almost £2,500 and any farmer knows the financial impact of losing livestock. It was doubly frustrating because it was due to poor maintenance of fencing along the railway line that had allowed the cow to be on the tracks. Common grazings are natural in crofting communities, and so animals can wander far and wide. It’s therefore vital that Network Rail maintains fencing right along the tracks.

“Too many farmers lose livestock through absolutely no fault of their own and that hits their finances hard at a time when most are already struggling to make ends meet and make a profit.”

The MSP added: “After a year as an MSP, I am most proud of solving cases for individuals.” Duncan MacLennan said: “I am grateful to Kate for her invaluable help in securing compensation from Network Rail for causing the death of our cow in July 2016. “After extended obstruction by the company, her intervention and related media coverage proved effective in obtaining a pay-out after nine long months.”