Network Rail is carrying out extensive preparatory work ahead of repairs to a 500,000 tonne landslip on the Settle to Carlisle railway line.
A team of 80 is examining all possible long-term solutions to the problem – a challenge made doubly complex by the landslip’s size, the fact it’s still moving and its inaccessible location.
On the ground at Eden Brows, the scene of the slip, 40 of the orange army are building access roads across farmland, setting up a site compound, removing vegetation and taking soil samples to fully understand the underlying ground conditions.
Rhiannon Price, Network Rail project manager, said:
“Around 500,000 tonnes of earth in the embankment supporting the railway is still on the move downhill towards the River Eden.
“Since our monitoring systems detected significant movement on 9 February our geotechnical and engineering experts have been considering all the possible repair options. We have not yet agreed on the best final engineering solution but we hope to have that soon.”
The much-loved Settle to Carlisle line is likely to remain closed north of Appleby for several months but, once a single engineering solution is finalised, this preparatory work will enable a swift start to repairs.
Richard Morris, chairman of the Friends of the Settle Carlisle Line, said:
“This iconic line goes through some of the most beautiful landscape in Britain – not least the Eden Gorge. It is also of national strategic importance. There is a big problem for Network Rail at Eden Brows. We recognise the scale of the problem and the time it is likely to take to fix it. We are working closely with Network Rail to achieve the very best outcome.”
Northern Rail is operating trains between Leeds and Appleby and replacement bus services between Appleby and Carlisle.