As the end of another season on the Manx Electric Railway starts to creep ever closer it has been revealed that Isle of Man Transport are hoping to undertake major repairs to Ballure Viaduct, subject to funding from Tynwald.
The Ballure Viaduct is 52 metres long and carries trams on their way to Ramsey over Ballure Glen. It was built between 1897 and 1898 and during an inspection in 2010 it was discovered that parts of the structure were carrying up to 90% of their safe load during the crossing of a standard MER service. Some of the timbers which support the rails on top of metal girders were replaced in 2011 with more being replaced in 2013 but it is now necessary to undertake further repair and refurbishment works.
It is planned that the whole structure will be scaffolded to allow a number of severely corroded metal sections and 300 currently ineffective rivets to be replaced with some crane work also likely. Timber supporting steel beams will be upgraded or replaced and the whole structure will be repainted –for the first time since 1981 – with high integrity marine standard coating after the removal of the old paint. All of the rail carrying timbers will be replaced and safety guard rails are due to be installed.
As part of the work the track between the viaduct and the main Laxey Road will also be replaced. There is also the possibility that further works will be required on the viaduct depending on what is discovered once the old paint has been removed but it is hoped that detailed trial works already undertaken will minimise any unexpected costs.
It is anticipated that the work will costs £1,285,000 and Infrastructure Minister Phil Gawne MHK will seek Tynwald approval for this next week. If this is approved works should start as soon as the MER season ends on 2nd November 2014.
* Before the 2014 season on the MER draws to a complete close there is one last event – Winter Photography. Due to take place on 1st November 2014 this event will celebrate 120 years in service of the Tunnel Cars – 5, 6, 7 and 9. All four cars will feature during the day with the event start at 0900 from Derby Castle for just £20. Further details on the event can be found at http://manxelectricrailway.co.uk/events/winter-photography-2014/.