Scotland’s Railway bridge installation is among the biggest in Europe

 Thursday, April 6, 2023 


Engineers in Scotland have begun an intense ten-day programme to install a 5,000-tonne bridge on the West Coast Main Line (WCML) at Ravenscraig in North Lanarkshire.

The site is near Motherwell on the section of line currently out of service to allow the rebuilding of Carstairs Junction.

The bridge project has been timed to coincide with that work, thereby minimising disruption to services.

The 16.9 million pound (19.4 million euro) project is being delivered through an agreement between the local authority for the area, North Lanarkshire Council, and the national infrastructure agency Network Rail, to construct a new road under the railway line as part of the ongoing regeneration of the former steelworks site.

The railway has played a huge part in rehabilitating the community, which has been reinvented since the demise of heavy industry in the area.

6,000 tonne move

For the last 10 months, Network Rail and STORY Contracting engineers have been casting the Ravenscraig bridge at Network Rail’s compound next to the West Coast Main Line (WCML), Europe’s busiest mixed traffic route.

They are now preparing to move the prefabricated bridge into position during this week, between now and April 10.

Working around-the-clock, the team have begun this phase by excavating approximately 36,000 tonnes of material from the railway embankment and removing the track and overhead line equipment.

In a feat of innovation and engineering, the bridge and support structure, totalling around 6,000 tonnes, will then be driven into position using remote-controlled vehicles called self-propelled modular transporters (SPMTs).

The project team believe the operation will be the biggest move of its kind in Europe.

Intense period of activity

The track and the overhead line equipment will be reinstated before a series of signalling work takes place and the line is reopened.

Once the new bridge is in place, the local authority will progress with the construction of a new dual carriageway road with pedestrian and cycle paths as part of a wider investment to open the area for future development.

The railway work is being carried out at the same time as the 160 million pound (184 million Euro) investment at Carstairs on the WCML.

Given the sheer size and scale of the bridge, it represents a significant piece of engineering work, made possible by successes in innovation and collaboration with their major contracting partner, STORY, said Jeremy Spence, Senior Programme Manager, Network Rail.

The upcoming intense period of activity marks a major milestone in this huge construction project, with Network Rail, Story and North Lanarkshire Council working closely over the last year to get it to this point.

Once their work is complete, it will allow the council to continue the regeneration of the area that will bring vacant and derelict land back into use while helping to create jobs and connecting people and businesses across the whole region.

They would like to thank passengers and our lineside neighbours for their patience and understanding while we carry out this vital work.

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