Posted 16th February 2016 | 3 Comments

Engineers win race against time at flood damaged viaduct

THE ScotRail Alliance has confirmed that trains will be able to use flood-damaged Lamington Viaduct from Monday (22 February), after engineers had staged a race against time to save the bridge.

The structure was hit by floods caused by Storm Frank on New Year's Eve, and Network Rail engineers discovered that the viaduct had been so badly damaged by the surging waters of the River Clyde that it had come close to collapse.

It had been feared that the West Coast Main Line would remain closed north of Carlisle until the beginning of March, but engineers worked round the clock to renew the structure and have managed to complete the work ahead of schedule.

Among the problems they encountered were damage to the second pier, which needed new steel bearings and a concrete plinth, and the bridge deck was raised back into position a few days ago.

Their efforts have been helped by better weather and also the early arrival of the replacement bearings, which had to be specially manufactured.

ScotRail Alliance managing director Phil Verster said the project had been 'hugely challenging', because it had involved 'working out in the Clyde through the worst of January's storms in a race against time to save the structure'.

He added: "Our engineers have faced atrocious conditions throughout this project and I am really proud of their hard work and their absolute commitment to getting the line open again.

"I really do want to thank customers for their patience, and our industry partners for the close cooperation shown over the last two months. By working together we have been able to help limit disruption for passengers by providing diversionary routes for many of the affected services."

Passenger and freight trains were diverted via Dumfries where possible but passengers had faced longer journey times, with replacement buses also being used.

The job is one of several emergency Network Rail projects to repair damage caused by savage winter weather, and although services on the West Coast Main Line should return to normal after the weekend, the region's rail troubles are not over. The Settle & Carlisle route is expected to remain blocked north of Appleby for some months after an embankment slip in early February, which involved more than half a million tons of rock and soil.

Reader Comments:

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  • Lewis Downie, Glenrothes

    So, give an extended or exaggerated length of time to complete the repairs and then announce you have done it early and reap the applause - Bravo!

    Did the Scottish government not do the same with the Forth road bridge?

    Network Rail have done well all the same, repairing it!

  • Chris Jones-Brider, Buckley Flintshire

    Once again NR engineers have shown their ability to make good the damage inflicted on the network by the winter's storms. I'm sure there are many lessons to will be learnt from the response to restoring the damaged infrastructure that will feed into future incident management and also pre planned engineering operations.

    The more recent closure of the Settle & Carlisle route due to landslip north of Appleby is a reminder of the sting in the tail of the storms as the aftershocks are felt due to civil engineering works being destabilised. It is to be hoped that sufficient attention & funding is being given to NR to address long term damage affecting the network.

    While engineering resilience is paramount to the safety & integrity of the network the significant route closures should be a focus for improving operational resilience. Operators need to show they have adequate contingency plans to enable robust services to continue for the paying customers. While the freight operators have no choice but show initiative and divert services the fragmented nature of the passenger franchises have meant valuable route flexibility for crews & rolling stock has been lost over the years.

    I'm sure that the affected TOC's will well compensated by NR for the disruption from blocked routes. What is less clear is that adequate attention is made in franchise contracts for TOC's to show that reasonable resource is funded to cover contingency plans brought about by foreseeable strategic route blockages.

  • Chris Green, Huddersfield

    The engineers have done an unbelievably good job hats off to them!