A steep railway cutting that was edging slowly towards the Settle-Carlisle railway line has been strengthened thanks to a £1.2m investment.

The upgrade, at Fothergill, near Kirby Stephen, is being delivered as part of the Great North Rail Project.

It will help keep the line between Leeds, Settle and Carlisle safe and reliable for passenger and freight trains.

To help stabilise the slope, engineers dug out waterlogged soil and laid 11,500 tonnes of rock.

A new drainage system was also installed to better manage water levels following heavy rain.

Olivia Boland, scheme project manager at Network Rail said: “Our routine safety inspections to improve the performance of rail services across the North of England is a key part of our Putting Passengers First programme.

“This is why we’ve invested £1.2m on earthwork strengthening work at Fothergill on the Settle-Carlisle line to help keep passenger and freight services running reliably between Leeds and Carlisle.” 

The work to stabilise the slope involved the excavation of soil that had been weakened by surface water from the surrounding area.

Once removed, engineers then made the cutting more shallow and stable using large amounts of rock.

A series of drainage pipes and catch pits were then laid to divert water away, making this section of the line more resilient to heavy rainfall.

The work at Fothergill was completed by Network Rail’s Cumbrian-based contractor, Story Contracting.

The site is next to the Birkett Tunnel and trains continued to run, without disruption to passengers, throughout.