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Salmon River spawns new rail bridge

Network Rail used the Christmas holiday break to renew a bridge over a salmon spawning river in Cumbria.

The deck of Cummersdale Viaduct, which carries the twin track Cumbria coast railway over the River Caldew between Carlisle and Dalston, is being completely replaced in a £1m project designed to keep this vital rural rail route open for years to come.

Chris Chatfield, Network Rail’s scheme project manager, said “Compared to many other railway lines, the Cumbria coast line is relatively lightly used. However, it provides a vital link for all the communities it serves, which is why we are investing such a large sum of money in it.

“The deck of the existing viaduct is made of timber planks, which are now life expired and need replacing. We will use rail mounted equipment to lift out the old timbers and install the new steel deck units, which come in 46 pieces.”

Work started on Christmas Eve after train services stop running and will continued until first thing on Wednesday 28 December.


Scaffolding has already been attached to the underside of the viaduct and covered in an environmental wrap to protect the river below. This part of the project had to be completed in September before the start of the salmon spawning season.

The fish breeding also means work can’t be completed before June 2012. Mr Chatfield explained: “We need to carry out scour protection work. This stops the flow of the river eroding the viaduct piers, but to do this, we actually need to work on the river bed. However, the salmon breeding season lasts from September to June so we will have to come back next summer to finish the work.”

The new viaduct will be painted a holly green colour to blend in with the surrounding countryside.