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Friday, 26 December 2014

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British Rail wants security fences at Waverley Viaduct for three more years

British Rail wants ‘temporary’ security fences that keep people off Carlisle’s Waverley Viaduct to stay in place for another three years.

The steel fences were erected in 2009 by British Rail Board (Residuary) to stop people using the Grade II-listed structure to cross the River Eden.

It applied last year to keep them in place for three years but was knocked back by the city council, which granted permission only for 12 months.

Councillors hoped that negotiations would take place to reopen the viaduct as a pedestrian route.

But one year on there has been no progress and planning permission for the fences runs out on December 31.

British Rail’s planning application says: “The structure is a six-span skewed viaduct, which comprises entirely of masonry carrying a disused railway formation over the River Eden.

“The structure is in a rural location carrying private lands over the river.

“The fencing is in place for public safety and asset security. There is no access to restrict.”

More than 2,400 people have signed a petition calling for the viaduct to be reopened. It would provide a link across the Eden from the Cumberland Infirmary to Etterby and Stainton.

British Rail has said it is happy for this to happen, provided either the city or county councils puts up fences along the viaduct to stop people falling off.

The city council is sympathetic but says efforts to make progress have been hampered by a land owner on the northern bank who opposes reopening.

Campaigners say this objection could be overcome by imposing a right-of-way order or by building a ramp from the viaduct down to the river. They are urging people to object to British Rail’s planning application.

The city council has received four objections already.

One of them is from David Ramshaw who runs the ‘Save the Waverley Viaduct’ web pages.

He said: “Reopening it would make an enormous difference to a lot of people, especially in Belle Vue.

“It would provide a link to the nature reserves, provide a traffic-free crossing of the Eden and improve the footpath network of the city.”

The viaduct carried the Carlisle-Galashiels-Edinburgh railway, which closed to passengers in 1969.

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