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Settle-Carlisle line reopens as NR complete ‘most challenging repairs ever’

Network Rail has today finished “one of the most challenging rail repairs ever,” as it announced that the iconic Carlisle-Settle line was reopening for service.

After the first Northern service out of Carlisle at 5.50am today, the Flying Scotsman, hired for the day by the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway, will make a one-off chartered trip from Keighley via Settle, Appleby and Armathwaite, arriving into Carlisle at 1.05pm to mark the repairs being completed.

Today’s announcement follows more than a year of continued repairs to move 500,000 tonnes of earth that had fallen onto the track after flooding to the River Eden in Cumbria in February 2016 caused the ground to slip underneath the railway, which in turn led to the track falling 2.5 metres below its normal level.

The innovative works, which cost a total of £23m to complete, involved engineers driving two rows of high-strength piles (steel tubes filled with concrete) into the bedrock of the Eden Gorge, north of Armathwaite – something that engineers hope will futureproof the track in the area.

The scale of the job, coupled with the inaccessible location of the track, made the repairs “one of the most challenging repairs ever,” the infrastructure owner said in a statement today.  

Martin Frobisher, managing director of Network Rail’s London North Western route, said: “I am beyond thrilled that customers and goods are moving again on this vital economic artery through Britain’s most beautiful landscape.

“Our orange army has ensured that even if the ground gives way again in future, the railway will not.”

Paul Maynard, rail minister, commented that the completion of the work was “an excellent example of the government’s vision for the future of the UK’s rail network”– which will be run by an integrated team of people with a commitment to improving services for the benefit of passengers.

“Network Rail, contractors and train operators have together worked hard to get this historic line – which first opened 130 years ago – running again,” he explained. “Our railways are crucial to our economic future and whether it’s improving services or completing essential repairs, the commitment is the same.

“That is why I am delighted to be part of this event marking such a significant moment.”

And Douglas Hodgins, chairman of the Friends of Settle-Carlisle Line, said: “It is great to be back in business.

“We shall be working tirelessly with the railway industry to ensure the line regains its role as a through route to Carlisle and Scotland as quickly as possible - and to seeing the splendours of the Eden Gorge from the trains again. Well done Network Rail and its contractors.”

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Andrew Gwilt   01/04/2017 at 11:10

Well done Network Rail. Glad that the famous line in England has reopened.

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