Aerial photograph of the railway bridge being established

Freight services in the Midlands to benefit from new railway bridge

A landmark railway bridge is set to be installed in Birmingham, which will become the longest single-span railway structure in the West Midlands.

Following the demolition of an old railway viaduct on the Stechford-Aston freight line, Network Rail engineers are preparing to install the new 92m bridge.

It is being constructed by Network Rail, in partnership with HS2, so that future tracks for Britain’s new high speed rail line can pass underneath it.

Known as the SAS 13 bridge, the new single-span structure weighs 2,600 tonnes and has been pre-assembled over the last 22 months in a huge compound beside the existing railway lines by contractor Skanska.

Using this construction method has significantly reduced carbon emissions and cut down the number of lorry movements on local roads, minimising impacts on the local community.

Over the weekend, Network Rail will drive the vast metal and concrete bridge into position using 18 huge remote-controlled vehicles known as Self Propelled Modular Transporters (SPMT).

Each SPMT has 24 wheels, meaning the 2,600-tonne load will be spread across 432 wheels while it is being driven into place.

Once in place, engineers can then restore the tracks to allow trains to resume service over the bridge from Monday May 23, 2022.

Patrick Cawley, Director for ‘On Network Works’ for HS2 and Network Rail, said: “Moving this 2,600 tonne bridge into place is no mean feat and the new structure will ensure Britain’s new zero-carbon, high-speed railway HS2 works in harmony with the existing rail routes into the second city.

“As you’d expect from such a complex engineering project, CrossCountry passengers will see changes to their weekend journeys in May. I’d urge people to please check before they travel using the National Rail Enquiries website or app, and I thank everyone in advance for their patience while we help build this railway for the future.”

Rosario Barcena, Skanska Rail Programme Director, said: “We’re extremely excited to be working with Network Rail and HS2 to deliver the SAS 13 bridge replacement project. This project will deliver the largest single span railway bridge in the West Midlands, improving connectivity and paving the way for the HS2 route into Birmingham City Centre.

“We have designed and constructed the bridge to deliver value for money, reduce impact to the environment and disruption to the local community. The bridge has been fabricated on-site, cutting carbon emissions and reducing vehicle movements to and from site. We’re looking forward to seeing it in operation.”

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