Network Rail has completed work to protect the railway on the Cumbrian Coast line at Parton
Working around the tidal patterns of the Irish Sea became the norm for a small team of Network Rail’s orange army who have been delivering emergency repairs to the sea wall since storms battered sea defences protecting the railway over Christmas and the New Year.
The team quickly repaired the breaches in the wall using cement as a temporary measure. But the need to get onto the beach to install a permanent layer of ‘rock armour’ – huge boulders at the base of the sea wall which absorb much of the energy from the waves – meant taking advantage of low tides was essential.
Some 15,000 tonnes of rock has been transported onto the beach next to the railway to create a barrier of protection from the force of the ocean.
John Owen, works delivery manager for Network Rail, said: “In total we’ve put around 15,000 tonnes of the rock armour into place which will help protect the railway for several decades to come.
“The main challenges have been the weather and access and we had to carefully plan our work around low tides so we could safely and effectively install these defences.
“The logistics were also challenging as we had to move the rock in from quarries, into a compound and then, during low tide, onto the beach. The result is a safer and more reliable railway for the people of Cumbria.”
Network Rail also took the opportunity to work with the local council to totally clean up the beach to help return it to its natural beauty, removing everything from fridges to mattresses.
Jamie Reed, MP for Copeland said: “I recently met with Network Rail to visit their sea defence work at Parton where I was struck by the scale of the challenge they faced in transporting 15,000 of rock armour onto the beach, especially when this had to be completed during low tide and when the railway was still in operation.
“I am grateful for their hard work in repairing the sea wall and ensuring that this well used railway line is further protected for decades to come. It is clear that Network Rail is playing its part in the ongoing flood recovery work.”
The work at Parton forms part of a multi-million pound scheme to protect high risk areas of the Cumbrian Coast line from erosion and protect the railway from future weather-related disruption.
Network Rail owns, manages and develops Britain's railway - the 20,000 miles of track, 40,000 bridges and viaducts, and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations (the largest of which we also run). In partnership with train operators we help people take more than 1.6bn journeys by rail every year - double the number of 1996 - and move hundreds of millions of tonnes of freight, saving almost 8m lorry journeys. We're investing £40bn in the railway by 2019 through our Railway Upgrade Plan to deliver more frequent, more reliable, safer services and brighter and better stations.