Monday 13 Oct 2003


Region & Route:
Network Rail has successfully completed £3.2m worth of engineering projects on the Settle to Carlisle line following two week-long closures of the route, allowing train services to return to normal at the weekend (11/12 October). The waterproofing of Smardale Viaduct, between Kirkby Stephen and Appleby, was the principal element of the work.  The northbound line was tackled on the first week, with the jointed track being lifted out and old ballast removed down to the level of the arches. A strengthening concrete haunch/slab was then cast over the arches before a textile and thick PVC-type waterproofing membrane was laid on the concrete bed. New ballast and new continuously welded rail were then laid to finish the job.   The first week of the work also saw a major reconstruction of a bridge at Shaw Paddock between Garsdale and Aisgill, where spandrel (side) walls were rebuilt, as well as other routine structural repairs to bridges and tunnels.  Extensive track renewals, again on the northbound line, between Horton-in-Ribblesdale and Selside, and at Birkett between Mallerstang and Kirkby Stephen, were also undertaken during the first week. Heavy track maintenance was carried out by maintenance teams at selected locations to extend track life until complete renewal is programmed. - more - S&C – 2 A number of heavily wooded cuttings on the route were also cleared of excessive vegetation, in the ongoing initiative to improve wheel grip during the autumn leaf-fall period. Significantly this year, the route was re-opened on the Saturday and Sunday in between the two week-long closures to enable the normal service to serve stations along the route, as well as to allow special and diverted trains to run. The waterproofing of the southbound line over Smardale viaduct was undertaken during the second week of the work, again with track renewals extending some 800m south of the viaduct.  Similarly, track renewal of the southbound line from Wharton to Birkett was undertaken.  The strategy was to keep to the renewals to the same line each week, so that engineering trains, ballast tampers, and road-rail plant etc could pass on the other line.  Again, during the second week, heavy track maintenance and vegetation clearance continued, the latter using large road cranes sited in adjacent fields to lift out heavy logs from cuttings. The major track renewals required 6400yds of new continuously welded rail, 12,200 steel sleepers, and 31,000 tons of ballast, with all materials being delivered to the sites by engineering trains rather than being brought in by road. Martin Frobisher, Network Rail general manager at Preston, whose organisation led the work, commented: “This is another example of Network Rail and other partners within the industry overcoming site difficulties and working together to successfully achieve a major renewals project in inhospitable surroundings as we continue to rebuild the railway.”

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