Race against time to lift 80-tonne rail bridge near Machynlleth ends in success
Network Rail have completed a £3.6m, six-week project to lift an 80-tonne bridge near Machynlleth by hand to avoid flooding.
They had a six week window to complete the project as the stretch of river Dulas is a fish spawning river there was a limited period during which the work could be carried out.
The bridge on the Cambrian Line between Machynlleth and Shrewsbury in England, has closed 30 times in the past decade due to flooding. The line reopened on time, today, 28th June 2021.
Engineers opted to lift the 80-tonne bridge manually, rather than using hydraulics, to ensure there was no twisting or buckling of the structure. Eight sets of 20-tonne chain hoists were used in total. For every 10 metres of chain pulled, the bridge was raised just 10mm.
This resulted in more than 12,800 metres (12.8km) of chain being pulled by hand through the lifting blocks.
Richard Compton, project manager for Network Rail Wales and Borders, said: “Black Bridge has repeatedly flooded over the years during periods of heavy rainfall, causing regular closures and long delays for passengers. We experienced this flooding first-hand during our work, which shows exactly why raising the bridge is so important.”
AmcoGiffen was the contractor hired to complete the work. Their regional operations director Andy Crowley said: “With nine months from concept to completion, we knew from the outset that it was going to be challenging to deliver this scheme in such a short timescale.
“We also understood the necessity behind the risk being taken. Collaboration was crucial from the start and when severe weather hit the early days of the project, we all worked together to recoup the lost time and maintain our schedule.”