Iconic Yorkshire railway viaduct needs more repair work

15 Feb 2021 @ 10.12 am
| Transport

Specialists restoring one of the country’s most treasured railway structures have found it needs some extra repair work to secure its future for passengers and tourists.

Today, (Monday 15 February) Network Rail has released progress pictures of work taking place as part of a £2.1m investment into Ribblehead viaduct.

Stone blockwork and drainage is being upgraded on the historic structure, which carries the picturesque Settle to Carlisle railway 400 metres across the Ribble valley in Yorkshire.

Ribblehead viaduct during blizzard from Network Rail compound – Feb 2021

Detailed laser and drone surveys have mapped every inch of the Grade II* listed viaduct for the first time, and huge scaffolding towers have been built for the repairs to take place.

While the expected repairs have been progressing well, further minor faults in the masonry have been found which need fixing.

Some of the blockwork on the viaduct’s supports is cracked. When water gets inside and freezes in cold weather it turns to ice and expands, making the damage worse.

Plans have been submitted to the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority to carry out the extra repairs to the newly found cracks as soon as possible as part of this same project.

Found deeper issues

Marc Vipham, route asset manager for structures at Network Rail, said: “Being up close restoring Ribblehead viaduct for several months now, we have found deeper issues that need attention to protect this amazing feat of Victorian engineering for the future.

“As with any heritage project of this kind, when plans need to change it is standard procedure to submit further planning applications to adapt our work.

“Carrying out these extra repairs now, when the experts are in place and the scaffolding is already up, will save a huge amount of taxpayers’ money and stop us needing to come back all over again.

“We’re continuing to work closely with heritage experts and conservationists at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority so we’re all on the same page as to how we can best restore this much-loved structure for generations to come.”

Ribblehead Viaduct opened in 1876 bridging the gap between Ribblehead and Dent on the exposed and windy Batty Moss.

Ribblehead viaduct key statistics

  • 104 ft. high
  • 402 metres long
  • 24 arches
  • Built between 1870 – 1875
  • Opened on 1st May 1876

Looking after Ribblehead Viaduct

At 400m long, Ribblehead Viaduct’s 24 arches sweep through the Three Peaks region of Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Network Rail looks after this historic piece of Britain’s railway and ensuring the Victorian structure remain in safe working order and will last for generations to come is a great responsibility.

They undertake visual exams of the viaduct annually and detailed inspections every six years. They also typically carry out a major renewal every 10 years and any minor works as an when necessary.

Severe weather is one of the challenges as it crosses open land in an exposed position.

For more information on the history of the Settle to Carlisle line click here.