Tracks reopened on the Stechford to Aston freight line in Birmingham following the installation of a massive 2,600-tonne bridge (3,200 with the railway weight now on top) built by Network Rail in partnership with HS2. The steel and concrete structure becomes the longest single-span railway bridge in this part of England.
It needs that clearance underneath so future tracks for Britain’s new zero-carbon railway can be built below for HS2 trains to access its Washwood Heath depot.
The demolition of the old railway viaduct and installation of the new bridge has closed this connection to the Birmingham rail freight terminal for 23 days.
Patrick Cawley, director for ‘On Network Works’ for Network Rail and HS2, says: “Seeing the first train pass over this iconic structure is a proud moment for the hundreds of people who’ve worked throughout the pandemic to make this new bridge a reality.
The project contractor was Skanska company.
"Installing a railway bridge over an existing railway line is a complex engineering project that requires a huge amount of skill and dedication from all those involved. To have delivered this on time and despite Covid-19 restrictions is a fantastic achievement and testament to the team involved," explains Rosario Barcena, Skanska Rail program director.
Building and installing the bridge, known as SAS 13, involved precision planning and engineering and the use of some heavy-duty equipment.
Earlier this month the structure was driven into place by remote-controlled vehicles after being pre-assembled on site in a civil engineering project which has taken over two years. Building it on site reduced carbon emissions and cut the number of lorry movements on local roads, minimizing impacts on the local community.
The bridge in figures:
- Weighs a total of 2,600 tonnes (3,200 with the railway weight now on top)
- Spans a distance of 92 metres
- Is held together by 26,715 bolts weighing a total of 25 tonnes
- The whole project uses 3,601 cubic metres of concrete
- And 1,118 tonnes of steel (equivalent to 940 Mini Cooper cars)
- Is an investment of £85m to ready the existing railway for HS2