World’s oldest railway viaduct gets repairs ahead of its 200th anniversary

World’s oldest railway viaduct gets repairs ahead of its 200th anniversary

Work is well underway to restore the world's first railway viaduct, the Sankey Viaduct in Newton-le-Willows.

Network Rail is investing £3.8 million in the project, which will see the 193-year-old viaduct undergo a range of repairs, including repointing mortar, extensive brickwork repairs and installing strengthening anchors as well as essential maintenance work on the viaduct.

The viaduct was designed by railway pioneer George Stephenson and opened in 1830 and affectionately known as ‘Nine Arches’, it is a Grade I listed building, which makes renovations on the viaduct more difficult to complete.

The restoration work is expected to take four months to complete and is being carried out by a team of 25 engineers and scaffolding specialists.

Mark Evans, Network Rail Capital Delivery senior programme manager, said: "It's a privilege to look after so many significant buildings and structures across the rail network, but Sankey viaduct has got to be one of the unsung heroes of Victorian civil engineering.

"Its huge significance in the creation of the railway as we know it today is perhaps not so well known – but we're hoping to change that. This restoration will not only make sure it looks good to celebrate its 200th anniversary in 2030, but will also secure passenger and freight trains for the future too."

Laser scanners and drones have also been used to map every inch of the viaduct as part of the restoration project, helping engineers make repairs now and closely monitor areas needing any further attention in the future.

With the LiDAR system, light is emitted from a rapidly firing strobe light with the light then travelling to the ground. It will then reflect off the environment surrounding it, creating a reflected energy that returns to the LiDAR sensor where it is recorded.

Once that is collected, it helps produce a 3D computer model.

The restoration work is being carried out in close consultation with St Helens and Warrington council planners to ensure all the work complies with heritage guidelines.

Photo/Video Credit: Network Rail

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