Lifeboat ramp repaired alongside work on Cumbrian Coast line

The reconstructed slipway at St Bees.

Rail workers protecting the Cumbrian Coast line from the effects of extreme weather and erosion have rebuilt a section of public slipway used to launch RNLI lifeboats.

Every winter, the railway along the Cumbrian coast is battered by storms that often either damage the railway or even force it to close. This year, major work was needed between Workington and Whitehaven to repair damage caused by three major storms.

As part of an £8 million project to protect the line, Network Rail is working at St Bees. Engineers planned on using a public slipway to access the headland that needed protection. Also used by the nearby St Bees Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) station, it was in a sorry state after being battered by the elements, so the railway team lent its help to Copeland Borough Council to fix it.

Pouring concrete to rebuild the slipway.
Craig Jackson, Network Rail.

Concrete washed away over the years by pounding waves and rocks was re-laid, restoring the slipway and ensuring its availability for the community and the lifeboat station – and for Network Rail engineers too!

Craig Jackson, works delivery manager for Network Rail, said: “It was the least we could do to fix the slipway at St Bees and also allow the RNLI to continue its fantastic work.

“It’s great that our essential work to secure the long-term future of this vital railway route for passengers and freight on land, has now also benefitted those who find themselves in trouble at sea.”

St Bees’ Atlantic 85-class lifeboat is transported down the slipway and across the beach to launch.

Gerard Burns, RNLI regional estates manager, said: “I’d like to say a massive thank you to Network Rail for their assistance in repairing the concrete slipway at St Bees. Thanks to the team’s hard work, the lifeboat station has been able to remain in service.”

Cllr Jeffrey Hailes (right) on the rebuilt slipway with three volunteers from the RNLI lifeboat crew.

Jeffrey Hailes, Copeland councillor for St Bees, said: “I’d like to thank Network Rail and everyone involved in this important project. There is now a safe access for our dedicated RNLI team when they are being called out to sea, and a safe route for the public to access the beach. This work is much valued by the whole community.”

Regrading the slope at St Bees and installing rock armour at the foot of the headland.

Work to stabilise the railway at St Bees is now complete. It involved installing 230 metres of ‘rock armour’ to secure the base of a headland from coast erosion, which would have put the railway above at risk.

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