A much-loved Yorkshire tourist attraction, the North Yorkshire Moors Railway (NYMR), is seeking to raise vital funds to renew three bridges that are coming to end of their lives around Goathland Station. Their renewal is key to the railway’s long-term survival and Chris Price, General Manager, explains the challenges of maintaining an 18-mile heritage railway.
Chris said: “For us to continue to provide passengers with memorable days out, we are continually looking forward to ensure the preservation of the line. In this case we have identified that Goathland bridges need some major attention or otherwise we will have to place restrictions on their use. The bridges are currently sound but, like all bridges, they only have a limited lifespan.”
This is particularly true of the large girder bridges on the railway, which in some cases are well over 100 years old. They currently carry heavier loads than they ever carried in the days when the railway was run by British Railways. One bridge, between Goathland and Grosmont, was replaced some years ago and now three more need attention near Goathland Station, famous for its use in many films including Harry Potter.
These three bridges were installed in 1908, and even back then were second-hand. Being cast iron they are now starting to show their age after more than a century of use. Whilst they are in no danger of falling apart or collapsing, they must be repaired and/or renewed in the next five years.
Chris explained: “The biggest bridge is under the railway and can be seen from Goathland Station. It is suffering the most, with extensive corrosion wasting away significant parts of the old steelwork. The continual use of heavy steam engines puts great stress on some of the bridge deck components, all of which are heavily corroded.
“After careful consideration and review of the condition and structural assessment, we believe this bridge is now past economic repair. If it is required to continue to carry steam locomotives we require a complete renewal of the bridge with a new two-track modern standard welded bridge, which will, of course, look like a heritage bridge in keeping with the heritage appearance of Goathland Station.”
The other bridges are approximately a quarter of a mile south of Goathland
Station, carrying the railway over the Eller Beck and a farm access road. When built in 1865 they carried two tracks, but in 1908 they were reconstructed and converted into two single line bridges side by side.
A recent engineering assessment has revealed some significant design weaknesses in these bridges, but, fortunately, some strengthening has already been done on another bridge nearby, again carrying the railway over the Eller Beck.
It has been decided that both bridges will require this strengthening as well as the repair work to ensure that they can continue to be used by passenger trains hauled by large heavy steam engines.
Dependent on fundraising, it is hoped that work can start in 2020 and be completed over the following two years. The cost of this work is substantial, with the bridges outside Goathland Station costing Â£500,000 and Â£400,000 respectively, and the big two track bridge under Goathland Station costing over Â£1m.
These bridges are crucial to the NYMR remaining an operating railway and must be tackled within the next five years if the railway is to continue operating as it does, with an hourly service in each direction during the peak summer timetable.
For further information on Yorkshire’s Magnificent Journey Appeal, the biggest challenge that remains to making the route sustainable for the next half century, and to find out how you can donate visit nymr.co.uk/YMJ