WORKS is under way to improve passenger and freight journeys over the world-renowned Ribblehead viaduct.

The iconic North Yorkshire landmark is undergoing important maintenance to secure its future for decades to come.

The 144-year-old viaduct will have its drainage improved and brickwork restored making journeys for passenger and freight trains more reliable on the stunning Settle-Carlisle railway.

The £2.1m investment in the Grade II listed structure is part of the Great North Rail Project.

Ribblehead viaduct opened in 1876 bridging the gap between Ribblehead and Dent on the exposed and windy Batty Moor.

Work will take place between now and February 2021, including:brickwork repairs, removal of vegetation and repairing the damage caused by plants and weedS, upgrades to drainage across the viaduct’s 24 arches, repainting metal and pipework.

No major disruption is expected during the viaduct maintenance work.

Phil James, North West route director at Network Rail, said: “It’s a privilege to look after so many significant buildings and structures across the rail network, but Ribblehead viaduct has got to be one of the crown jewels of Victorian civil engineering.

“We know the structure is incredibly important both locally and internationally, and we want to give it the care and attention that it deserves so it can be enjoyed by future generations of passengers and sightseers.”

Engineers are in the process of installing scaffolding to provide a safe platform to carry out repairs to the 400m structure.

Network Rail is working closely with Historic England and the Yorkshire Dales National Park to ensure the work is sympathetically carried out in line with guidance for historically significant structures.

Steve Hopkinson, regional director at Northern, said: “The viaduct is iconic and we’re really proud to have such a magnificent piece of engineering on our network.

“It is also a vital and much-loved part of the hugely popular Settle-Carlisle line. The work being carried out will ensure future generations are able to enjoy one of the most beautiful rail journeys in the UK.”

Paul Brown, chairman of the Friends of the Settle-Carlisle Line group, said: “This work has come about as a result of regular inspections of the Ribblehead viaduct. We work closely with Network Rail and welcome this investment in the line’s future.

“The Ribblehead viaduct was once seen as the route’s major weakness. It is now probably stronger than it was when the Victorians built it. This work is needed to keep it that way.”

Passengers are reminded to continue following government Covid safety advice and to check before travelling at or with their train operator.