Monday 22 Feb 2016
West Coast Mainline reopens for passengers
• Engineers finish vital repairs ahead of planned March reopening
• Passenger services back on track from this morning
The West Coast Mainline reopened to passenger and freight services this morning (Monday, February 22) following the successful completion of repair works at the flood-damaged Lamington Viaduct.
The viaduct, over the River Clyde, has undergone an intensive seven week engineering programme to stabilise the structure after it was left close to collapse by Storm Frank on New Year’s Eve.
The first train over the newly-repaired viaduct, at 03:00, was the north-bound Caledonian Sleeper service between London and Inverness. Virgin Trains and First TransPennie Express services will also resume over the course of this morning.
Phil Verster, Managing Director of the ScotRail Alliance, said: “I am delighted our engineers have been able to complete this vital job earlier than scheduled and get passengers back onto the West Coast Mainline. 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.”
Claire Perry, UK Government Rail Minister, 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.”
Derek Mackay, the Scottish Government’s Transport Minister, said: “I am pleased to see the Lamington Viaduct operational once again, and the resumption of the vital passenger and freight services that rely on the West Coast Mainline.
“I would particularly like to praise the efforts of all those people who have worked on securing and rebuilding the structure, especially amid the challenging weather conditions that we have experienced this winter.”
The viaduct’s second pier had been left on the brink of collapse when floodwaters scoured out much of its foundations on December 31 and hundreds of engineers have been working around-the-clock since January to save the structure.
The incident also damaged the second pier’s steel bearings, which support the bridge-deck and track above the pier, a non-load-bearing section of the viaduct’s third pier and the structure’s north abutment.
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 Clyde, constructed concrete supports around the damaged second pier and anchored it to the riverbed using over 100 8m-long steel rods.
Works have also been undertaken to replace the bearings on the second pier and repair the damage to the third pier and north abutment.
In the weeks ahead, activity on-site will continue with work to re-profile the river banks and re-shape the viaduct’s piers to further improve the flow of water through the structure.
Engineers were able to take advantage of a break in the weather conditions in early February and the earlier than expected arrival of the new, custom-made, bearings to accelerate their recovery programme – which had been expected to run until early March.
About Network Rail
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.
Every day, there are more than 4.8 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.