Damage is “far worse” than engineers anticipated on Barmouth Viaduct.
Network Rail has apologised to the local community after extending a £30 million restoration of the timber viaduct.
The rail owner and manager says that the work on the Grade II viaduct is like nothing that has gone before – with a three-year programme setting out to replace 1,000 timber and metal parts on the bridge found to be rotting and decaying.
But the railway will now have to reopen on 29 December, 17 days later than planned, so engineers can safely carry out extra repairs. This date is, Network Rail says, based on the assumption no further issues are found, and subject to extreme weather conditions which can cause delays.
The extension to the project was made necessary after engineers spotted additional timbers under the railway and the walkway in need of replacement due to deterioration.
Project manager at Network Rail, Gareth Yates, 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, during the Christmas period 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.”
Network Rail said it is working closely with Transport for Wales as they make arrangements to provide rail replacement services during the extended closure of the railway.