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Council urged to intervene after British Rail Board erects security fence

Cyclists in Carlisle are campaigning to have a disused railway viaduct across the River Eden reopened as a cycle route and footpath. The Waverley Viaduct, which is Grade II listed, previously carried the Carlisle-Galashiels-Edinburgh railway line, but closed in 1969.

Since then, pedestrians have used the viaduct as an unofficial footpath, although there have been occasional efforts to prevent them doing so by the British Rail Board, the body responsible for the land, and which last summer erected steel fences at each end of the viaduct to permanently restrict access.

The News & Star reports that according to its retrospective application for planning permission for the fence, the British Rail Board says: “The structure is in a rural location carrying private lands over the river. The temporary fencing is in place for public safety and asset security until a permanent security solution is implemented at a later date.”

The newspaper adds that Carlisle City Council has received three objections to the application, and that if one more is received by 24 February the matter will need to be debated by councillors. If no further objection is raised, then planning officers will be able to make a decision using delegated powers.

One objector is Geoff Brazendale, a member of local cycling campaign group Cycle Carlisle, who told the News & Star: “It’s a jolly nice walk and a very accessible means of getting from one side of Carlisle to the other. They have really snookered that now. It should be a public right of way and a cycle way.”

Mr Brazendale continued: “I know it would be expensive to repair but it did withstand two enormous floods last year and in 2005, so structurally it’s not in bad condition,” adding, “it’s a crying shame that this wonderful structure is being just left to fall to bits.”

Sustainable transport charity Sustrans has in the past considered incorporating the viaduct into its Connect2 cycle route from Kingmoor to Currock, but those plans were shelved in 2006 in favour of a proposed bridge close to Bitts Park.

Cycle Carlisle has now launched an online petition asking Carlisle City Council and Cumbria County Council to buy the viaduct and turn it into a route for cyclists and pedestrians.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.