A Victorian viaduct that forms an iconic part of the Ribble Valley landscape is benefitting from a £1.6 million investment by Network Rail.
For the next six months – without disrupting rail or freight services – major engineering work will take place at Whalley viaduct on the busy Clitheroe to Manchester Victoria line as part of Network Rail’s Railway Upgrade Plan.
Engineers will strengthen the viaduct to help keep it in use for decades to come and improve the drainage around it using a system which will also help to reduce the impact on flooding in the area when nearby river levels are high.
In total, 2,800 steel brackets and 16,800 anchors will be fixed to the sides of the viaduct to improve the long-term stability of the structure. Approximately 1.4km of handrails will be fitted to create safer working conditions for Network Rail’s orange army while it carries out this and future work.
A new 400m drainage channel and 16 catch pits, including a flow control chamber, will also be dug out at ground level. This will hold excess surface water from the track during heavy rainfall and prevent it from discharging into the River Calder, helping to reduce the impact on local flooding. The collected water will then be slowly released into the river Calder when levels have dropped.
Nigel Evans, MP for the Ribble Valley said: “This huge investment in the local rail infrastructure is extremely welcome news. Whalley Viaduct is a beautiful piece of construction which, for many people, serves as a lasting memory of the Ribble Valley.
“So the fact that it is being strengthened in order to preserve it for the future is fantastic. What is more, it will not disrupt the busy rail line which is frequently used by commuters.
“Perhaps most important is that the new investment will help reduce flood risk. This area was devastated by flood damage last winter. It is excellent to hear of new construction in the Ribble Valley which legitimately takes flood risk into account and will not make matters worse!”
Michael Lally, scheme project manager at Network Rail, said: “Network Rail is committed to Lancashire’s railway which is why we are investing £1.6 million as part of our Railway Upgrade Plan to safeguard the future of this iconic viaduct in Whalley. The work is essential to protect the structure so it can continue to serve important freight and passenger services which are vital for the regional and national economies.”
The strengthening work to the viaduct began this week and will take place until 31 March 2017 and will involve 24 hour working. The drainage improvements will start later this week and will involve Monday to Friday working, between 7am and 4pm, lasting for five weeks.
Whalley Viaduct was built over three years by the North West Junction Railway company. Made up of 49 arches the viaduct, which connects the towns of Blackburn and Clitheroe by rail, was completed in 1850.