A vital rail bridge in Hellifield on the line that links the famous Settle to Carlisle railway with the commuter route from Clitheroe to Manchester is to be strengthened by Network Rail. The line is of strategic importance to the national rail network as it is used as a diversionary route for the main London to Glasgow line.
It is also used by the DalesRail summer services that take tourists from Lancashire and further afield to see the delights of the scenery or take in a guided walk, and by freight trains serving the cement works in Clitheroe.
Network Rail route director Jo Kaye said: “It is essential we carry out this work to maintain and prolong the life of the bridge, and secure the performance of passenger and freight trains for the future.”
The original single span wrought iron bridge was strengthened by the addition of a steel centre girder just after the turn of the last century and although the bridge has 5.8 metres headroom, the underside has been struck by high vehicles on a number of occasions. This has caused damage to the supporting structure which now needs to be renewed.
At the same time, Network Rail will carry out repairs to the supporting walls, renew and replace damaged or missing drainage and clear vegetation before grit blasting the structure and giving it a new protective coat. Finally, it will be painted cream and holly green to blend in with the rural nature of the town.
While the work is in progress, the A65 Main Road beneath the bridge will be closed to vehicles for nine days from 10pm on Friday 28 October until 5am on Monday 7 November. It will also close each weekend from 11 November to 5 December.
A diversion will be set up for vehicles although pedestrians and cyclists will still be able to use the adjacent pedestrian tunnel throughout the work.
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