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Published on : Monday, January 18, 2016
Network Rail will be demolishing the second half of a railway bridge which forms part of Walsall High Street this weekend in one of the most complex moments of the Walsall to Rugeley electrification project which forms a vital part of the national Railway Upgrade Plan to bring passengers a better, more efficient railway.
The bridge, used by thousands of shoppers each day, is an integral piece of the pedestrianised Walsall High Street with dozens of trains running underneath it every day. The structure dates back to the 1930s and needs replacing with a shallower version to free up headroom for the overhead electrification lines that will be installed underneath.
The £78m in electrification of the line between Birmingham New Street and Rugeley will provide passengers with improved journey times and make services more comfortable, reliable, quieter and greener.
Following years of planning the first phase of the work took place before Christmas with the demolition and replacement of half of the bridge on the station side over seven weeks. The second phase starts this weekend on the opposite side of the High Street with pedestrians still enjoying access across the bridge and to the shops.
Matt Brown, scheme project manager for Network Rail, said: “Technically this is relatively straightforward but logistically it’s the most complicated bridge I’ve ever had to deal with because it’s right in the middle of the town centre.
“We’ve made sure the key stakeholders are on board with the scheme. We’ve had a close relationship with the local authority, and the traders to educate people as to what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.“When we start work over the railway on Sunday morning we’ll be installing protection underneath the bridge to shield the track and signalling infrastructure from any falling debris.
“We’ll use two 30-tonne machines which will start to split the beam from New Look to the centre into the middle. One by one, the beams will be lifted out and taken offsite and recycled.“The new bridge is a traditional concrete deck and the beams will be craned in over about ten hours next weekend and we’re expecting to finish by Easter.
“It’s been eye-opening. A lot of people don’t even know there’s a railway underneath because of the nature of the High Street.”Network Rail is investing £78m in electrifying the line between Birmingham New Street and Rugeley providing passengers with improved journey times and make services more comfortable, reliable, greener and quieter.