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Bam Nuttall and Bechtel complete Reading rail bridge replacement

Bam Nuttall and Bechtel have completed a major bridge replacement on Network Rail’s Reading Station Area Redevelopment project in England. The work to install a new bridge at Cow Lane took place while the Reading West Curve rail line was taken out of commission during a 104-hour time slot over Christmas.

The task of replacing Cow Lane Bridge started at 5pm on Christmas Eve, when the rail freight line above was closed so that demolition of the old 6m span bridge could take place. On Boxing Day evening a huge self-propelled modular transporter lifted the new 14m span, reinforced concrete bridge into place. This led to the on time hand back to operations of the Reading Western Curve.

The complex task saw the deck, abutment, wing walls and anchor blocks lifted into place as a single, complete 1,900t unit. Precision engineering ensured the bridge landed exactly in the right location and settled to within 2mm of its designed level. Novel methods of backfill speeded up the backfill operation, allowing the programme critical works to be carried out over 4 days, when Network Rail had anticipated it requiring 5 days. The new bridge was handed back in to service 8 minutes early after some earlier ground conditions issues were overcome during Boxing Day.

“The Cow Lane works went very well indeed.  The team overcame some significant problems:  when the old Cow Lane bridge was removed, the ground was found to be much more waterlogged than had been expected, and we had to spend around seven hours in extra preparation before we could start to move the new bridge.  Despite this, we caught up the time and handed back the possession with four minutes to spare, which is a testament to the resourcefulness and determination of the team,” said Network Rail delivery director for Wales and West Robbie Burns.

“As we were moving a whole bridge into place there was no margin for error. This was a complex task and the results are testimony to what can be achieved through collaboration in the rail industry and with its partners,” said Bechtel implementation director Wayne Chin.

“To achieve what we did was a terrific effort from many people, both during the holiday period and in the time leading up to the works,” added Bam Nuttall area manager Alan Cox.

The bridge replacement is part of Network Rail’s £850M improvement programme for Reading station and the surrounding area.


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