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Iconic Lancashire viaduct strengthened

Victorian viaduct in Ribble Valley

A Victorian viaduct that forms an iconic part of the Ribble Valley landscape will benefit from a £1.6M investment by Network Rail.

Network Rail said that for the next six months – without disrupting rail or freight services – major engineering work would take place at Whalley viaduct on the busy Clitheroe to Manchester Victoria line as part of its railway upgrade plan.

The viaduct was built over three years by the North West Junction Railway company and was completed in 1850. The structure has 49 arches and connects the towns of Blackburn and Clitheroe.

Network Rail said that engineers would strengthen the viaduct and improve the drainage around it using a system that will also help to reduce the impact of flooding in the area when nearby river levels are high.

In total, it said that 2,800 steel brackets and 16,800 anchors would 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 the team 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, said Network Rail, 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 of local flooding. The collected water will then be slowly released into the River Calder when levels have dropped.

“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,” said MP for the Ribble Valley Nigel Evans.

“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.”

The strengthening work is expected to take place until 31 March 2017 and will involve 24-hour working.

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