Friday 10 Sep 2021
Barmouth Viaduct restoration recommences following summer staycation boost
Network Rail is reminding passengers that work to restore Barmouth Viaduct restarts this weekend, after one of the busiest summer seasons in living memory
The vital £30m restoration project has been carefully planned to avoid the busy summer months and that’s helped cement Barmouth’s position as southern Snowdonia’s most popular seaside spot, with Barmouth recently named the third fastest growing holiday destination in the UK*.
Passengers, visitors and the local community are reminded that, with the peak Summer season over, the viaduct will be completely closed, including the walkway, from Sunday 12 September to Sunday 12 December 2021, in order to allow the work to be carried out safely.
‘Barmouth was thriving this year’ according to Arek and Nadine Wisniewski, who manage the bar at the popular Tilman Hotel.
“Places were packed to the point of people struggling to book places to eat. It was that busy!”, Arek said.
“Obviously, when the viaduct is closed it will be tough with tourists having to use other modes of transport, but everyone here wants to see it renewed. It’s beautiful and we want to make sure it lasts. We are so happy Network Rail is spending so much money to protect it.”
At the heart of Barmouth’s appeal to visitors is its Grade II* listed Barmouth Viaduct, the longest timber bridge in Britain. Despite surviving two world wars, a near-miss with a live naval mine in 1946, and even a marine woodworm invasion in the 1980s, at more than 150 years old, parts of the bridge are rotting and decaying.
In its biggest ever upgrade, Network Rail is replacing more than 1,000 timber and metal elements of the viaduct as part of a £30m restoration.
Bill Kelly, Network Rail’s Route Director for Wales and Borders, said: “I’m delighted that so many visitors have returned to Barmouth this year to enjoy everything the town has to offer.
“We have carefully planned our £30m restoration of Barmouth Viaduct so that most of our work takes place outside the peak summer season, but also avoiding the worst of the winter months when bad weather would make the work too challenging.
“The upgrade will allow us to continue to run a safe, reliable and efficient railway, and secure the future of Barmouth Bridge for years to come.”
Transport for Wales CEO, James Price said:
“The railway has played a vital role in Barmouth’s bounce back this summer - with passenger footfall topping nearby Porthmadog and Pwllheli – and even exceeding the number using the train to travel to South Wales’ famous Barry Island.
“After such a tough eighteen months, it’s been fantastic to see Barmouth so busy, and Network Rail’s investment in the viaduct will help secure the future of the town for generations to come.”
Network Rail is carrying out additional work during the £30m restoration, including replacing all the timber main beams. The upgrade has been designed to avoid changing the viaduct’s appearance, with the mechanism for the swing span remaining in place. The entire 820m length of track will also be replaced.
Network Rail has worked closely with Transport for Wales, Cadw, Gwynedd County Council, local elected representatives and others over several years to develop plans to upgrade the bridge. To reduce the impact of the work, it is taking place over three years, with three shorter closures of the 19th century viaduct, rather than one longer closure.
Transport for Wales will be providing rail replacement services during the closure and passengers are advised to check before travelling.
During 2022, Network Rail will replace the metallic spans of the viaduct and the associated track. They will also be upgrading the track at the north and south end of the viaduct in 2022.
Notes to editors
Barmouth Bridge runs over the River Mawddach estuary and was first opened in 1867. At 731m in length, it is one of the longest timber viaducts still in use. There are 113 timber spans, comprising braced wooden trestles, and five metal truss spans at the northern end.
*According to a survey by Syke's Holiday Cottages, reported in the Daily Post
Notes to Editors
We have footage of the 2020 phase works, time lapse footage and an animation showing the plans for the 2021 works available upon request.
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We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.
Usually, there are almost five million journeys made in the UK and over 600 freight trains run on the network. People depend on Britain's railway for their daily commute, to visit friends and loved ones and to get them home safe every day. Our role is to deliver a safe and reliable railway, so we carefully manage and deliver thousands of projects every year that form part of the multi-billion pound Railway Upgrade Plan, to grow and expand the nation's railway network to respond to the tremendous growth and demand the railway has experienced - a doubling of passenger journeys over the past 20 years.