Engineers on Scotland's railways are struggling to keep up with repairs - and passenger safety is at stake, their union warned today.
Rail union RMT laid an understaffing "scandal" at the door of Network Rail, blaming it for last week's breakdown across the West Coast main line.
Virgin Rail suspended services between Glasgow and Carlisle last Wednesday night after the line's overhead wire fell down near Carstairs in south Lanarkshire.
Infrastructure company Network Rail has three overhead line depots across Scotland - but the union's general secretary Bob Crow said his officials believed their staffing levels were "wholly inadequate."
Union representatives had raised the issue with company managers before, he said - only to be "fobbed off."
Last week's breakdown had been "entirely predictable."
He said: "It is a scandal that those justified concerns have been snubbed and treated with nothing less that contempt by managers who should know better.
"Network Rail has now compounded the problem by bringing in outside agencies to cover in the short-term rather than bolstering the in-house numbers required to do the job of work required in the long term.
"RMT is demanding that Network Rail take this issue seriously, meet our reps to discuss the issue and staff up the OHL depots to the level required to maintain both services and safety."
The breakdown comes just weeks after the Rail Accident Investigation Branch found that a derailed train in Edinburgh last July was caused by inadequate repairs to a set of points near Princes Street Gardens.
Inspectors said the company had not learned from similar derailments at Waterloo in London in 2006 and Glasgow's Exhibition Centre in 2007.
Network Rail did not return requests for comment by the time the Star went to press.