Network Rail is making sure ‘ewe shall not pass’ by restoring dry-stone walls along 11 miles of Cumbrian railway to stop sheep getting on the track. Over the last year, Swaledale sheep cleared boundary walls 29 times straying onto the iconic Settle-to-Carlisle railway line. With services travelling through the area at up to 60mph, this puts the sheep in harm’s way and it risks delaying train passengers if trains hit the animals. As part of a £50,000 scheme, Network Rail inspected thousands of metres of dry-stone wall before repairing sections of it.
Traditional methods were used to sympathetically fix the dry-stone walls to original standards between Risehill Tunnel and Garsdale. Network Rail staff worked in all weathers to carry equipment, materials and stone to and from particularly steep and hard-to-access trackside locations.
Sally Deacon, asset engineer for Network Rail, said: “Sheep on the line is no woolly issue. It’s a real problem and more common than you might think. It causes cancellations and delays to important freight and passenger services across the North. We want sheep safely in their fields. And we want passengers moving safely and swiftly on their trains. This dry-stone wall work helps make that happen. We’ve worked closely with local farmers and the Yorkshire National Park to ensure our dry-stone wall repairs are in keeping with the local environment. This is to deter curious sheep from trespassing onto the railway.”
Steve Hopkinson, regional director at Northern, said: “Our customers travel on the Settle and Carlisle line to take in the outstanding natural beauty of the area, but they certainly don’t expect to have their journeys interrupted by runaway ruminants. The vital work carried out by Network Rail will keep the sheep safe in their fields and allow our trains and customers to travel through the picturesque landscape without fear of delays caused by unwanted woolly trespassers.”
The work forms part of ongoing boundary fencing maintenance work carried out by Network Rail to keep the railway safe and trains running on time.