The line between March and Peterborough will be closed for several weekends later this summer and early autumn so that Network Rail can replace 87 pairs of wheel timbers on four bridges at Manea, Cambridgeshire.
Although 13 pairs of timbers were replaced on two bridges over Christmas 2017, a recent inspection showed that that 87 of the 140 pairs of wheel timbers across the four structures now require urgent replacement.
Inspections were carried out on railway bridges with softwood timbers using new technology, to understand the internal condition of the timbers. This followed a derailment on 23 January 2020 at Wanstead Park on the Gospel Oak to Barking line, when a freight wagon damaged over two miles of track and eight bridges.
Although the cause of the derailment has not yet been officially confirmed, Network Rail inspected other bridges with similar timbers. The four bridges at Manea were part of this additional inspection programme, and the timbers were found to be in need of replacement. A 20mph temporary speed restriction is in place until the wheel timbers can be replaced.
The work is expected to be completed during a 28-day closure of the line from 6 September to 4 October 2020 and on five additional weekends from August until November.
Ellie Burrows, Network Rail’s route director for Anglia, said: “I know this kind of disruption is incredibly frustrating for our passengers, and I’m sorry that it will impact people’s journeys for so long.
“Running a safe railway is my absolute priority, and so while I know it will be painful for passengers and our freight customers, I believe this is the right decision to get the work done as soon as possible.”