A £275,000 appeal to save the Severn Valley Railway’s Falling Sands Viaduct has been launched – and is being backed by Heritage Railway and our sister title The Railway Magazine.
As we reported last month, the Heritage Lottery Fund has given the railway £71,800 to firm up a scheme to carry out repairs to the 141-year-old landmark viaduct which spans the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal half a mile from Kidderminster.
However, the railway must raise £275,000 by itself in order to secure the full Lottery grant of £1 million needed to carry out essential repairs to the spectacular 132-yard red-brick structure.
Water over many years has gradually seeped into the viaduct’s seven arches, causing the brickwork to crack and erode and the mortar joints to crumble.
The viaduct’s condition has deteriorated to a point where there is already a 20mph speed limit on trains crossing it and without major remedial work the situation will worsen.
If the viaduct ended up being closed on safety grounds, it could deal a death blow to the railway, which has year on year recorded the second-highest numbers of passengers on UK heritage lines after the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.
Forced closure of the viaduct would cut off Kidderminster – the departure point for 88% of current visitors – from the rest of the 16-mile line. That would mean that the SVR’s main line connection, its carriage shed and diesel depot would be isolated
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