New bridge lifting technique launched to aid essential Network Rail work

The bridge and engineering specialist Mabey has developed a pioneering bridge lifting technique to support vital maintenance work carried out by Network Rail.

The first of its kind technique launched by Mabey in conjunction with Alun Griffiths Ltd, Cass Hayward and Network Rail IP Engineering has successfully passed a trial project and now maybe used further afield including for work on a 150-year-old viaduct in Barmouth, Wales. The trial project was found to save time and minimise disruption along Network Rail’s Pensarn to Llanbedr line.

The new approach involves a combination of proprietary steel supports and jacking, designed to be built remotely and transported into position. The technique has also been trialled on a single pier of the 150-year-old timber viaduct over the River Artro in Gwynedd.

Alun Griffiths contractors rail contracts manager, Steve Richardson, said: “We approached Mabey because of their expertise in delivering bespoke, smart engineering solutions in a short time-frame. As a long-term partner of ours, the team clearly understood our unique engineering requirements and the importance of developing a system that will bring significant benefits when adopted and applied to larger projects in the future. The successful trial over the River Artro will change the way we approach and programme these repairs.”

The model was developed at Mabey’s engineering facility, near Wigan and is part of Network Rail’s £1.4m Railway Upgrade Plan to improve services and accommodate growing passenger numbers in the local area.

Andrew Sperring, programme manager for Network Rail in Wales and the borders, said: “The railway is vital to economic growth. Our essential renewal work to the River Artro viaduct will ensure it remains safe and reliable long into the future. This project will play a key role in our improvement work to Barmouth viaduct, allowing us to use our new bridge lift techniques on a similar structure.”

Gordon MacDonald, chief executive of Mabey UK Hire, said: “The River Artro viaduct is a vital crossing for passengers travelling on the route from Pensarn to Llanbedr, so trialling the replacing of the timber crosshead in the quickest, safest and most efficient way possible was key. Our innovative new jacking system was a momentous success, and the new bridge lifting techniques are being considered for wider Network Rail improvement works to the nearby Barmouth viaduct.”

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