Posted 22nd February 2016 | 3 Comments
Flood-damaged lines reopen ahead of schedule
THE West Coast Main Line has reopened north of Carlisle today after repairs were completed to Lamington Viaduct, which bridges the River Clyde and was badly damaged when the river rose in spate after torrential rain on New Year's Eve. A line has also reopened in North Wales today, after being blocked for weeks by floods in the Conwy Valley.
Network Rail said Lamington Viaduct had been left 'close to collapse' after Storm Frank had passed, and an 'intensive seven week engineering programme to stabilise the structure' was necessary, which included the casting of new bearings supporting the deck of the bridge.
The first train to pass over the viaduct in service was a northbound Caledonian Sleeper at 03.00. While the line had been blocked the sleepers, like many daytime trains, had been diverted.
ScotRail Alliance managing director Phil Verster said: “I am delighted our engineers have been able to complete this vital job earlier than scheduled and get passengers back on to the West Coast Main Line. We appreciate the understanding customers have shown throughout the recovery operation.
“I am very proud of the hard work and commitment of our engineers who have had to contend with extremely challenging conditions at Lamington – battling against the elements and clock to save this important structure from collapse.”
The reopening also brought praise from rail minister Claire Perry, who said: "When I visited the Lamington Viaduct in January I saw first-hand the scale of the engineering challenge and the dedicated Network Rail team working round-the-clock to resolve the damage. In difficult conditions, they have managed to re-open ahead of schedule, and I’m grateful for the patience of customers who were disrupted and to the staff who adapted remarkably.
“We can now get rail customers and rail freight moving again on this vital cross-border rail link, which is the western backbone of the network. Our record investment in the railways continues, along with regular maintenance and inspection, to ensure that they can withstand these unprecedented weather events.”
Over the last seven weeks engineers have placed more than 7,000 tons of rock around the battered structure to protect it from the fast-flowing river, constructed concrete supports around the damaged second pier and anchored it to the riverbed using over 100 steel rods, each eight metres long.
The job is not quite over. The engineers will now be turning their attention to the banks and course of the river. The banks will be re-profiled and the piers of the structure amended in shape to improve the flow of water, and make it less likely to have such a destructive effect again.
Meanwhile, trains are running again on a branch line in North Wales for the first time since late December, a week earlier than predicted.
The Conwy Valley line between Llandudno Junction and Blaenau Ffestiniog was severely damaged by floods in more than 100 places. Network Rail said the timetable would be reduced at first, with three of the 12 daily trains being replaced by buses for the time being, but delivery director Francis McGarry said it was hoped that the full train service could be resumed soon.
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