An inspection of the Lamington Viaduct, which was severely damaged by Storm Frank, has revealed that the vital rail link won’t be safe to reopen until March.
The viaduct, which forms part of the West Coast Main Line north of Carlisle, was due to reopen on 1 February after it was hit by the storm on New Year’s Eve. However initial repairs enabled structural checks to be safely carried out last week and now the ScotRail Alliance says the viaduct will not reopen until the first week of March.
Following the storm, engineers used more than 1,500t of stone to dam part of the Clyde, which would help stabilise the viaduct’s second pier after the floodwaters scoured out much of its foundations. Then more than 300m3 of fast setting concrete was put into the void to secure stabilisation and enable the inspection.
However the inspection found that the continued bad weather and high water levels have caused structural damage to another of the piers on the viaduct. Three of the steel bearings which support the bridge deck and track have been damaged, and damage to the foundations is worse than previously thought.
Now engineers will install additional concrete supports on either side of the second pier and then install additional 8m long rock anchors / mini piles through the pier’s foundations to support the structure from a wider and lower base.
They’ll also carry out structural repairs to the third pier and the course of the river will be widened to reduce water pressure on the viaduct. Following this the steel bearings will be replaced and the viaduct bridge-deck realigned and the track re-laid.
ScotRail Alliance managing director Phil Verster said: “The damage caused by Storm Frank to the Lamington Viaduct has been very serious. Our engineers have been in a race against time to get the structure stabilised and prevent it from collapsing into the Clyde. Only now that we have won that race can we really see the full extent of the damage.
“The damage from the floodwaters is significant. We have had to use hundreds of tonnes of rock to divert and reduce the flow rates at the piers and an extraordinary amount of concrete just to stabilise the second pier. Unfortunately the scale of the damage and the complex nature of the engineering challenges means that the repair is going to take longer than we initially thought.
“All of the train companies who operate services on the West Coast Mainline are working together to make sure that we keep goods and people moving. The temporary timetables and arrangements that have been in place for the past couple of weeks are going to have to continue. That is why it is so important that anyone who is travelling on this route checks their travel details before they travel. All the companies have information on their websites and have staff ready to answer any questions you might have.
“I know that the damage that Storm Frank has caused to this viaduct is impacting on a lot of people. We are doing everything we can to get the repairs done and the line reopened quickly and safely.”
Trains are being diverted via Dumfries, adding an hour to journeys.