An historic railway bridge in North Tyneside, is undergoing specialist inspections to pave the way for a major track replacement scheme. The Howdon viaduct, which carries thousands of Metro services each day, was built in the 1830s and has been in continuous use for over 180 years.
Nexus, the public body responsible for the Tyne and Wear Metro, has commissioned a team of specially trained engineers to conduct a meticulous inspection of the viaduct’s wrought iron arches. The engineers, who are experienced in working on railway bridges across the country, are using ropes and harnesses to scale the 80-foot structure.
The inspections are part of the preparations for a major track replacement scheme that will see the existing track on the viaduct replaced with new, modern track. The work is expected to take several years to complete and will represent a significant investment in Metro infrastructure.
“Howdon viaduct is one of the most important and iconic structures on the Metro network,” said Sarah McManus, Head of Renewals at Nexus. “Carrying scores of Metro trains each and every day, it is essential that we maintain the viaduct to the highest standards.”
“These at-height inspections will allow us to explore the best options for renewing the tracks that run across the viaduct over the next few years,” McManus added. “This will be a major investment in Metro infrastructure and will ensure that the viaduct continues to serve the people of Tyne and Wear for many years to come.
“The work has involved specially trained civil engineers climbing up on to the super structure to assess the condition of the wrought iron. This will be fed into a detailed planning process as we look at the best options for a track replacement project.
The inspections are being carried out on behalf of Nexus by SPAN Engineering, a specialist engineering company with a proven track record in working on railway bridges. The team is expected to complete the inspections within the next few weeks.