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15,000 Tonne ‘Rock Armour’ To

Protect Coastal Railway

The UK Network Rail has completed

work to protect part of the

railway on the Cumbrian Coast

line with the installation of a

15,000 tonne ‘rock armour’ sea


Many coastal defences were damaged by the se-

vere storms that battered most of the UK late last

year. This was compounded by severe flooding

effecting many communities by unprecedented

level of rainfall. The combined effect was collapsed

bridges, rail track and roads undermined, often

cutting off entire towns.

Temporary measure were rushed into place and now

more longer term solutions are being scheduled.

Working around the tidal patterns of the Irish Sea be-

came the norm for a small team of Network Rail’s orange

army who have been delivering emergency repairs to

the sea wall since storms battered sea defences protect-

ing the railway over Christmas and the New Year.

The team quickly repaired the breaches in the wall

using cement as a temporary measure. But the need to

get onto the beach to install a permanent layer of ‘rock

armour’ meant taking advantage of low tides was


Some 15,000 tonnes of rock has been transported

onto the beach next to the railway to create a barrier of

protection from the force of the ocean.

John Owen, works delivery manager for Network

Rail, said:

“In total we’ve put around 15,000 tonnes of the

rock armour into place which will help protect

the railway for several decades to come.

“The main challenges have been the

weather and access and we had to carefully plan

our work around low tides so we could safely

and effectively install these defences.

“The logistics were also challenging as we

had to move the rock in from quarries, into a

compound and then, during low tide, onto the

beach. The result is a safer and more reliable

railway for the people of Cumbria.”

Network Rail also took the opportunity to work with

the local council to totally clean up the beach to help

return it to its natural beauty, removing everything from

fridges to mattresses.

The work forms part of a multi-million pound scheme

to protect high risk areas of the Cumbrian Coast line

from erosion and protect the railway from future weath-

er-related disruption.

• [cw]

Contractors World International Vol 7 No 3


Contractors World International