THE SETTLE and Carlisle line fully reopened on 31 March 2017 after what Network Rail described as its ‘most challenging railway repair ever’.
The line between Armathwaite and Carlisle had been shut since 9 February 2016 following a landslip at Eden Brows. NR’s surveillance and track monitoring teams detected the ground slipping beneath the railway towards the river Eden, and a 100-metre section of track subsequently subsided 1.5 metres.
NR says the size and scale of the repair job, combined with the inaccessible location and the fact the ground was still moving, made this the biggest repair challenge the company has faced. After considering six potential repair options, it was decided to drive two rows of high-strength piles into the bedrock, forming a corridor on which a one-metre-thick concrete shelf has been placed to carry the railway.
NR worked with Story Contracting on the repair, and an extensive earthworks project is also planned to protect the foot of the bank down to the river. This will involve the use of drainage systems and rock armour followed by tree replanting to stabilise the land. Altogether, the repair involved the removal of 16,000 tonnes of spoil, installation of 226 steel-cased piles and the pouring of 1,300 cubic metres of concrete.
During the closure Northern services were replaced by buses north of Armathwaite. The first service to use the reopened line was the operator’s 05.50 Carlisle to Leeds working on 31 March, and later that day a one-off trip by Flying Scotsman from Keighley to Carlisle marked the line’s reopening.
Meanwhile, the Conwy Valley line in North Wales reopened to passengers on 10 April after a six-week closure to repair damage caused by Storm Doris.
The line was shut on 23 February after a tree and rocks fell on the railway near Pont-y-Pant. The rock face alongside the line was found to be unstable, meaning a more extensive package of design and repair work was required than originally envisaged. Network Rail says more than 300 tonnes of rock and debris was removed mechanically and with explosive charges during the repair.
While the line was closed Arriva Trains Wales provided replacement bus services between Llandudno Junction and Blaenau Ffestiniog.