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HomeNews6,200-tonne bridge structure wheeled into place

6,200-tonne bridge structure wheeled into place [– with video]


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420 SPMT axle-lines were arranged five astride to move Fulfen Wood overbridge under the West Coast Main Line
420 SPMT axle-lines were arranged five astride to move Fulfen Wood overbridge under the West Coast Main Line

Installation of the structure to carry the HS2 railway under the West Coast Main Line at Fulfen Wood near Lichfield is being billed as the UK’s heaviest ever drive to install an intersection bridge.

Working for HS2 main contractor Balfour Beatty Vinci, Byrne Bros took six months to cast the 56-metre long by 19-metre wide structure, off line, alongside the West Coast Main Line.

Mammoet then deployed an 840-wheeled self-propelled modular transporter (SPMT) to move the 6,200-tonne structure into place.

Over the two days before the move last weekend, the team removed the WCML railway track and excavated 15,000 cubic metres of material to create the space for the structure to be moved into.

The operation follows other milestones in the West Midlands including the completion of the one-mile twin-bore tunnel under Long Itchington Wood and the start of production of 3,000 viaduct segments at an outdoor factory in Warwickshire.

HS2 senior project manager Caroline Warrington said: “This huge feat of engineering – the UK’s heaviest single span bridge drive – is our latest big milestone as we approach peak construction on Phase One of HS2. We’re making fantastic progress on this section of the route.”

Around 300 people working for Balfour Beatty Vinci (BBV) have delivered the work, and a team of 200 people are working 24/7 this week to move the bridge, backfill around it and put the railway back in place ready to re-open next week.

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BBV section engineer Chloe Foster-Chambers said: “As an engineer, big feats of engineering like this bridge drive make HS2 such a fantastic project to work on. It’s been a real team effort over the last two years, and seeing the operation successfully completed felt like a great achievement for everyone involved.”

The operation happened during a nine-day closure of the railway between Stafford and Rugby while Network Rail carried out its own upgrades. Work is now taking place at Fulfen Wood to replace the tracks and railway systems over the new bridge which should allow the railway to reopen to passenger and freight services on Monday 24th July.

The bridge is prepared for the moved
The bridge is prepared for the moved

Peter Schoenmakers, lead engineer at Mammoet UK, said: “The Fulfen Wood Overbridge installation does show that with a collaborative approach and early engagement with all involved parties during the design stage of the structure, a cost-effective and a most efficient installation method can be developed early on in the project.

“The early engagement allowed the designers of the structure to design the bridge that suited the available and existing equipment to be used and no special equipment had to be fabricated or purchased. This approach is very important from a sustainability perspective.”

After this operation, the same transporters will be used to install another bridge drive just a mile to the northwest in Streethay, where a similar 2,600 tonne structure is to be moved into place under the South Staffordshire line between Lichfield High Level station and Derby. 

The whole team celebrates
The whole team celebrates

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