Cumbrian riverbank strengthened to protect West Coast main line

The finished embankment at Thrimby. Cumbria

A riverbank that was in poor condition and threatened the integrity of the railway above it has been upgraded in Cumbria.

More than half a million pounds has been invested to strengthen the banks of the River Leith, which borders the West Coast main line near Thrimby.

The £550,000 project has seen the river’s retaining wall replaced to prevent erosion which could risk damage to the railway embankment 40 metres above it.

Without disrupting train services, Network Rail engineers built a modern and stronger retaining wall from pre-cast concrete to protect the railway for years to come. The new wall and riverbanks can now better absorb the power of the river with ‘rock armour’, reinforced matting and rock protection bags now in position.

The River Leith flows alongside the West Coast main line.

As the work took place in a wildlife conservation area and site of special scientific interest, it was carefully planned by Network Rail’s ecologists, working closely with Natural England and Eden Borough Council.

A dam was used to divert river water, creating a dry working area so that the retaining wall could be rebuilt using 170 precast concrete blocks and 40 cubic metres of concrete. In addition, 900 tonnes of spoil were excavated to strengthen the opposite riverbank.

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