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Forth Bridge painting to finally end in December

Painting work on the Forth Bridge that began in 2002 will finally come to an end on 9 December this year, ahead of schedule, Balfour Beatty Regional Civil Engineering has said.

Network Rail and main contractor Balfour Beatty Regional Civil Engineering will preside over what they are calling “the end of a modern myth” when the refurbishment work is completed. Painting of the bridge will likely not begin again for over 20 years.

“The current restoration work has been ongoing since 2002 but, owing to years of underinvestment during the 1970s and 1980s, the scale of the job was initially unclear,” said Network Rail Scotland route managing director David Simpson. “Now, with scaffolding being removed and the final sections of painting being completed, we’re confident that job will be finished before Christmas.”

After 10 years and an investment of over £130M, the bridge will finally be free of scaffolding. Network Rail said this represents an end to the idiom that “if repairing or improving something is like painting the Forth Bridge, it takes such a long time that by the time you have finished doing it, you have to start again”.

Forth Bridge facts

Age of Bridge

Opened 1890 (121 years old)

Length of Bridge

Overall: 2.467km

Main structure (portal to portal): 1.63km

Height of Bridge

High water to top: 110m

Foundation to top: 137m


Weight of steel in bridge: 53,000t

Number of rivets: 6.5M

Concrete and masonry in piers: 91,746m³ faced with 610mm thick granite

Operational information

Number of trains per day: 200

Number of passengers per year: 3M

Painting the bridge

Painting area: 230,000m²

Volume of paint used: 240,000l

Lighting the bridge

Total number of lights installed: 1,040 lights

Length of cabling required: between 35km and 40km

Readers' comments (2)

  • Interesting to derive from the "Facts" in the article, that if the bridge was solid masonry, over it's entire length from foundation to top, it would be nearly 300km wide! And since when has area been measured in km³?

    Can NCE please pay a little more attention to getting their facts right?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Dear John, thank you for highlighting the conversion error on the painting area. The figure has now been corrected to 230,000m².

  • Dear Editor

    My first comment relates to the volume of "Concrete and masonry in piers"- do you have the correct figure for that?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • John, the correct figure for that is 91,746m³ -- the same m to km conversion error was made for both. Please accept our apologies.

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