A railway line threatened with closure by British Rail in the 1980s is to have another massive cash injection by Network Rail to ensure its long-term future.
The famous Settle to Carlisle line has already had millions of pounds spent on it in recent years to match the huge increase in both freight and passenger trains. Now Network Rail is to pump nearly £10m into it on various projects this year.
The biggest of these is the waterproofing of Smardale Viaduct, north of Kirkby Stephen station, and Shaw Paddock Bridge, north of Garsdale, which will cost a total of £1.3m. While this work is going on, Network Rail will also take the opportunity to renew a total of nearly two and a half miles of track at Selside, Horton and Birkett.
The work will take place over two week-long periods which will mean the line being closed between Appleby and Settle stations from 28 September to 4 October and between Appleby and Garsdale stations from 5 to 11 October . During this period, Arriva Trains Northern will provide replacement buses, full details of which will be available nearer the time, together with details of altered train services.
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Also planned for this year is:-
· £1.5m of earthwork at Culgaith, between the level crossing and Crowdundle Viaduct. This will involve re-grading the railway cutting so that the sides are not so steep and therefore are less susceptible to landslips.
· £1m of work to clear trees and bushes from the lineside along the entire length of the line, providing major safety benefits for the railway, such as giving train drivers a clear view of signals, preventing the problems associated with leaves on the line and giving track workers a ‘safe haven’ from approaching trains.
· £1m of ‘heavy maintenance’ to the track in numerous locations. This could include tipping new ballast, laying new steel or wooden sleepers or simply lifting the track and re-packing the ballast beneath it.
· Installation of new rainwater downspouts and tie-bars on Dent Head Viaduct (£200,000)
Network Rail will use several specialist contractors to carry out the work, the main ones being the North West Structures Alliance, which is a partnership between Network Rail and Edmund Nuttall Ltd that will carry out most of the structural and earth work, Carillion Rail who will look after the majority of the track renewal and heavy maintenance programme and HW Martin Ltd, experts in tree and fencing matters.
Tim Clarke, Network Rail’s Regional Director said: “This is definitely the line that refused to die. Given its strategic importance, both in its own right and as a diversionary route for the West Coast Main Line, it is only right that we should continue to commit funds to the line to ensure its longevity. Not all the contracts have been let for the work this year so the end figure will be getting on for £10m.”
Railtrack, Network Rail’s predecessor, has already spent approximately £50m on the line since the end of the last century.