The Plessey Viaduct in Northumberland has been partially closed for urgent repairs on a moved parapet. It carries the east Coast Mainline over the River Blythe.
The Plessey Viaduct in Northumberland has been partially closed for urgent repairs on a moved parapet. New Civil Engineer reports that the historic structure carries the east Coast Mainline (ECML) over the River Blythe between Cramlington and Morpeth will be operating in one direction only while remedial works are carried out.
Network Rail Engineers are currently assessing the site to ascertain the best way to repair the five-arch Grade II listed structure. It was designed by Robert Stephenson in the late 1840s, and is surrounded by a dense wooded area along the banks of the River Blyth. This is making it difficult for engineers to move the parapet back to its original position.
Rail engineer Gareth Dennis said: “Whilst we await the full story on how this failure has occurred, the wider context applies in all cases: running more trains on our existing tracks, against the combined barrage of ageing infrastructure and increased extreme weather from climate change, requires a gargantuan effort from Network Rail and its suppliers.”
He added: “However, under instruction from this government, both staffing and funding levels have been reduced for the upcoming control period, with Network Rail’s own documentation reporting that more delays from failed infrastructure are an inevitability.
“Unless we see a change in course from this or the next government, we can expect to see many more failures like those at Nuneham and Plessey.”
About 30 tonnes of masonry and concrete have been displaced from the bridge. The damage was discovered during a routine structural inspection before planned engineering works. The parapet was previously strengthened by Network Rail in 2014.