Yorkshire’s most scenic railway line is set to re-open fully in the new year, following a landslip,
The Settle-Carlisle stretch was forced to partially close after a section of the gorge bank above the River Eden in Cumbria gave way last February.
The landslip itself, in December 2015, deposited half a million tonnes of debris onto the tracks.
The line was closed for several months early this year, between Appleby-in-Westmorland and Carlisle. In June, Northern services began running as far as Armathwaite, south of Carlisle, with buses completing the final half-hour leg.
The line, which further south takes in the Ribblehead Viaduct, will fully re-open on March 31. Contractors have installed a concrete and steel structure that will reinforce and stabilise the track bed.
Project manager Rhiannon Price said: “The viaduct-like structure we’re building will safeguard this section of railway for generations to come. If the land gives way again, the railway will not.
“This is a complex repair job many months in the planning. We are now focused on getting this iconic and much-loved line fully re-opened right the way to Carlisle as soon as possible.”
Rail operator Northern has been forced to provide a reduced rail service due to the closure.
Regional director Paul Barnfield said: “The work carried out on the Settle to Carlisle line is nothing short of remarkable. We are delighted that, in the near future, we will once again be able to provide a full rail service to our customers travelling between Yorkshire and Cumbria on this iconic line.
“We know it has been a difficult 12 months for our customers, but with the completion of the engineering work, we now look forward to being able to welcome passengers for many years to come.”
The news has also been a boost for the Friends of the Settle-Carlisle Line. Chair Douglas Hodgins said: “The re-opening of the line right through to Carlisle will be a huge achievement and a boost to Anglo-Scottish traffic especially. The scale and significance of the work being done at Eden Brows cannot be overstated.”
Once the railway is re-opened Network Rail plans to carry out earthworks improvements to the foot of the embankment below the line and above the River Eden.
This will include drainage ditches and pipework, rock armour to guard against erosion when flows are high, and finally replanting trees over the entirety of the affected area.