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New technology comes to the aid of Ribblehead

THE famous Ribblehead viaduct which was at the centre of unsuccessful proposals to close the Settle & Carlisle Line in the 1980s is receiving more attention than ever, after Network Rail scanned the structure of the viaduct using drones, lasers and 3D software, turning the resulting data into a computer model.

The scan was completed in preparation for an overhaul of the brickwork and drainage on the bridge, which was opened in 1876 as part of the Midland Railway’s new route to Scotland, and whose 24 arches stride for 400m across the Ribble Valley at a height of more than 30m.

Its deteriorating state was quoted as one of British Rail’s main reasons for wanting to close the S&C more than 30 years ago, but the route was reprieved and developed.

The new, detailed digital re-creation will help engineers make repairs now and also monitor areas which may need further attention in the future.

Network Rail’s North West route director Phil James said: ‘We’re always looking to innovate on the railway and seeing drones and lasers being used to care for such an historic structure is really impressive.

‘I was at Ribblehead viaduct when we started work and saw for myself the huge scaffolding platforms so my team can improve brickwork, mortar and drainage. Great care and attention is going in to make sure our work is right from a heritage perspective. This digital model plays a major role as we secure the Grade II listed-structure’s future for passengers and tourists as part of the Great North Rail Project.’

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