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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.

Waverley Viaduct photo
The Waverley Viaduct

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.

Have your say

The powers that be have spent tens of millions of pounds on a road across a World Heritage Site to provide car access to the new industrial developments at Kingmoor but begrudge the much smaller amounts needed to provide cycle and pedestrian access -- and, for that matter, access by train or bus.

They have also allowed the southern end of the old
railway trackbed to peter out in an ugly new industrial estate when it (and the bridge) used to be one of the glories of Carlisle, giving access to a lovely nature trail. I always used to enjoy using this route to the old youth hostel at Etterby, until that day when I found the bridge fenced off and had to spend a whole hour working my way round via the road bridge. Needless to say just then it started to rain...

Posted by Simon Norton on 30 November 2012 at 14:12

'But one year on there has been no progress'. No change, either, let me tell you, in my opinion over that period of time. The Walker brothers, Disillusioned and Angry, have expressed with great eloquence what a shambolic, embarrassing, inept affair this continues to be. But it is just part of a wider problem - is there a local authority in the land that has done less to maximise its riverside and path network potential? All we have is a litany of wasted opportunity: flood defences that could have been capped off with a hard top to form a footpath, links that go unmade for the want of a few metres of tarmac, and my favourite, a cycle / footpath on the new development route that crosses 4, yes, count them, public footpaths on its northern half yet doesn’t connect to any of them. Is it really asking too much to find a solution to open up the viaduct? Clearly the city council thinks it is.

Posted by Letterwright on 28 November 2012 at 20:44

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