Completion of the £30m restoration of the Grade II* listed Barmouth viaduct has had to be extended after engineers found the timber structure to be in a worse condition than originally expected.
During the renovation work, Network Rail engineers thoroughly examined the structure and found that the extent of damage to the timbers under the railway and the walkway was worse than originally feared.
The work to refurbish the viaduct has been the biggest and most ambitious in its history. A three-year programme scheduled the replacement of over 1,000 timber and metal parts of the bridge that were rotten and decaying.
To give engineers time to carry out the additional repairs safely, the railway over the viaduct will now reopen 7 days later than planned. This is at a time when visitor numbers to Barmouth are lower and schools are on their Christmas holidays.
Assuming no further defects are found and subject to extreme weather conditions which can cause delays when lifting machinery and cranes are needed, the viaduct will reopen to rail passengers on 29 December.
During the extended closure of the railway, Network Rail is working closely with Transport for Wales to provide rail-replacement bus services.
Gareth Yates, project manager at Network Rail, said: “We understand that this is disappointing and are very sorry for the inconvenience this extended closure of the railway and walkway will cause.
“The extent of the damage is far worse than we feared so we are extending this work now, when visitor numbers to Barmouth are lower and schools are going into Christmas holidays, to reduce disruption as much as possible.
“We will have engineers working around the clock to get the railway reopened.
“The work we are carrying out will ensure this iconic viaduct will continue to serve the community and visitors for many years to come.”