Divers in the River Eden at Carlisle to help maintain railway viaducts

Divers are working in the River Eden in Cumbria to protect two railway viaducts on the outskirts of Carlisle.

Network Rail has called in the specialists after surveys showed fast-flowing water has caused parts of the riverbed to wash away, which poses a risk to the viaducts' foundations.

These structures carry the West Coast mainline and trains have had to run at a reduced speed over them because of this issue.

Approximately 900 tonnes of special concrete will be used in the work on the buildings - which date from Victorian times and the 1940s - to provide what Network Rail has described as a "stable platform for the viaducts’ columns or piers".

Chris Pye, infrastructure director for the North West at network Rail, said: 

He added: After using the latest laser mapping technology to give detailed scans of the riverbed we brought this work forward so we could secure these viaducts for the winter ready for the second phase of work next summer.

A laser scan of the River Eden. Credit: Network Rail

The repairs are being made to the structures as part of a £1.3m Great North Rail Project investment. Once this first phase of work is over trains will be able to run at full speed of 100mph across the viaducts.

The scuba divers are both from Scour Protection UK, a specialist firm working in underwater construction.

More than 2200 tonnes of rock has also temporarily been put into the river to calm the waters and divert its flow so the divers can work under the surface. As a result of poor .visibility in the Eden, a lot of the work done by touch.

The second phase of viaduct strengthening work will take place in Summer 2022, designed as a permanent fix to the riverbed erosion.