Next phase of works underway as reopening of historic railway line gets ever closer.(Network Rail)

Next phase of works underway as reopening of historic railway line gets ever closer

View over the work at Eden Brows.(Network Rail Image)

The massive construction project to reinstate the iconic Settle to Carlisle railway is getting ever closer to completion as it reaches a new milestone.

Around half-a-million tonnes of earth gave way in February 2016 causing the ground below the railway to slip 2.5 metres below its normal level during the weeks that followed.

In order to ensure that the earth remains stable long-term, Network Rail engineers have undertaken a £23million project which involves driving two rows of high-strength piles – steel tubes filled with concrete – into the sloping bedrock of the Eden gorge, north of Armathwaite.

This phase of the project will require nearly 3000 tonnes of concrete and will arrive on site in 42 concrete mixer truck deliveries travelling through Cumwhinton between Thursday, 2 February and the beginning of March.

Phil Middleton, scheme project manager for Network Rail said:

 “This latest phase of the work means that we are getting closer to completion and we are confident that we will reopen the line on 31 March.

“We understand that the increase of heavy vehicles in the villages around the work site will be disruptive to the local community so we really appreciate the patience from residents as we work to re-open the historic and well-loved railway line.”

Paul Barnfield, Regional Director for Northern said:

“It has been a long and difficult 12 months for those who use the Settle to Carlisle railway, but we cannot overstate the size of the task that Network Rail had to face.

“Thankfully we are now just a few short weeks away from Northern being able to once again provide regular services between Leeds and Carlisle; not only connecting two great Northern cities, but also restoring vital rail links for all communities in between.”

Douglas Hodgins, Chairman of the Friends of the Settle-Carlisle Line said:

“We are at last within sight of the re-opening of the line as a through route.   To have got to this stage by now is a remarkable achievement.  The Leeds-Settle-Carlisle line will soon be back on everybody’s to-do list in a big way.”

Although some deliveries have had to be made by road, materials have been delivered to site by rail where possible. This includes ballast – the foundation of the track and 2000 metres worth of iron casting, along with the removal of 8000 tonnes of material excavated from the site.

Once the railway is reopened Network Rail plans to carry out earthworks improvements to the foot of the embankment below the line and above the River Eden.

This will include drainage ditches and pipework, rock armour to guard against erosion when flows are high, and finally replanting trees over the entirety of the affected area.

Great care is being taken to ensure ecology is protected, including badger setts and spawning salmon. Natural England will advise on the tree replanting.