THE West Coast Main Line is to remain closed until the beginning of March amid more delays to repair a crucial viaduct in South Lanarkshire.
Passengers will face further disruption to rail services between Scotland and England after engineers found damage to the viaduct’s foundations was worse than first feared.
Replacement services and timetables were provided after Lamington viaduct near Lockerbie was badly undermined by floodwaters during Storm Frank in December.
ScotRail had said the full line would reopen on 1 February but that date has been pushed back to the first week of March.
A pier of the viaduct was “on the brink of collapse” after floodwaters battered the structure which spans the River Clyde. Engineers used 1,500 tonnes of stone to protect the pier of the viaduct and have poured 300 cubic metres of fast-setting concrete to fill a gaping void under it. However, more damage has now been found. Continued bad weather and high water levels have contributed to the problems, including damaging another pier of the viaduct, three steel bearings supporting the track and the foundations of the structure, ScotRail said.
With the line closed north of Carlisle, alternative bus and train routes have added about an hour to the journey time between Glasgow and London, and hit other services.
Phil Verster, managing director of the ScotRail Alliance, said: “Our engineers have been in a race against time to get the structure stabilised and prevent it from collapsing into the Clyde. Only now that we have won that race can we really see the full extent of the damage.
“The damage from the floodwaters is significant. We have had to use hundreds of tonnes of rock to divert and reduce the flow rates at the piers and an extraordinary amount of concrete just to stabilise the second pier.
Phil Bearpark, Virgin Trains’ executive director for operations and projects, said: “Safety is our priority and we fully support Network Rail in their work to repair the viaduct.
“We have worked really hard with our industry partners in ScotRail and Network Rail to put a train diversionary service in place via Dumfries.
“This means journeys take around an hour longer but customers travelling between Glasgow and Carlisle can take a replacement train rather than bus.”