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  • Writer's picturelaurahines9

Falling Sands Viaduct Project - January Update

What’s wrong with the Viaduct? Over the years, water has seeped into the 142-year-old viaduct causing it to crack and erode. Urgent works are needed to ensure we can continue to use the loop line (between Kidderminster and Bewdley) and Kidderminster station remains connected to the rest of the Severn Valley line.

What if we didn’t carry out this restoration work? We’d have to take further action to mitigate wear and tear to the Viaduct, including slower speed limits, and potentially shortening our trains. Eventually we could face closure of this section of the line.

When did work start, and how’s it going? The track was lifted just before the end of last year. Our contractor, Since then, our contractor Walsh Construction has been removing the ballast and the sandstone infill from the top of the structure. They’ve now completed exposing the curved tops of all seven arches so that they can get to the drainage pipes and replace or repair these as needed.

Then what next? Once the contactors have improved the drainage pipes, they’ll install a new waterproof membrane, before putting everything back together. We’ll re-lay the sleepers and track on top, then we’ll be able run services over the viaduct once again. This should all be completed by April, in time for Easter. After the whole structure has dried out, we’ll use rope access to replace damaged bricks and repoint the mortar.

It’s not just about restoring the viaduct – what other events and activities are part of the Falling Sands project? There are lots of things taking place, for example:

· We’re working with schools and colleges on all sorts of activities including site visits, art work, and a video game project.

·We’re training volunteers to record oral history and capture people’s experiences of the railway throughout the years

· There’ll be Victorian activities, as well as music and performances (including a navvy choir!) culminating in a canalside festival next year.

· We’re creating two exciting new exhibitions, one at The Engine House in Highley and one actually on board a restored brake van, so it will be a rather unique ‘mobile’ exhibition. It’s all about bringing the history of the railway to life, with characters, sights, sounds and even smells of the SVR over the years.

When will the line be reopened? The whole line between Kidderminster and Bridgnorth is due to reopen 4th April 2020. During February half term week and on weekends in March, our trains will operate between Bewdley to Bridgnorth only.

How much will the project cost? £1.3million is the total project cost, and that’s a mixture of restoration works, activities, events and interpretation, and volunteer hours.

(£969,100 – restoration, £245,300 - activities, events and interpretation, £77,600 - volunteer hours, £8,000 - management and maintenance)

Where is the money coming from? £357,000 was raised by our Helping hands for Falling Sands appeal, and that included donations from local people and businesses and Trusts and Foundations. £853,000 was awarded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF)

Why are we doing activities and events as part of the project? As well as being an important way to share the project and the legacy and importance of the SVR, the National Lottery Heritage Fund award was contingent on us including lots engagement with people and communities, alongside the restoration itself.

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