Network Rail has reopened two routes which have been closed since the start of the year due to damage caused by the severe weather over the Christmas and New Year holiday period.
The West Coast main line north of Lockerbie reopened following repairs to the viaduct at Lamington, while train services resumed on the Conwy Valley line between Llandudno Junction and Blaenau Ffestiniog in North Wales after flooding caused damage at over 100 separate locations.
The WCML was shut on 31 December after movement was detected in the viaduct. Network Rail has since worked to rebuild the piers of the viaduct which were damaged by scour from the high water levels. Train services were diverted and amended, with many using the Glasgow and South Western route via Dumfries and Kilmarnock while some sleeper services ran via the East Coast main line into London King’s Cross. The first passenger train over the repaired viaduct was the northbound Highland sleeper service on the morning of 22 February.
Although train services have resumed, work will continue to re-profile the river banks and reshape the viaduct’s piers to further improve the flow of the River Clyde through the structure. NR had stated its intention to reopen the line on 1 March, but said that favourable weather conditions and early arrival of steel bearings for the structure enabled repairs to be accelerated.
Meanwhile, the Conwy Valley line was also opened ahead of target after the line was severely damaged by flooding. NR has worked with contractor Alun Griffiths Ltd to carry out the repairs, which include restoration of stone washed away by the flooding, repairs to bridges and embankments and replacement of signalling cables. NR’s initial aim was to reopen the line by the end of February, and train services actually resumed around a week early on 22 February.
However, trains will be limited to 20mph over a six-mile section of track until further works can be carried out, meaning a reduced timetable is in place, and the first two southbound trains towards Blaenau Ffestiniog and one northbound morning service will be replaced by buses.