Final preparations are underway to install a new landmark railway bridge in Birmingham which will become the longest single-span railway structure in the West Midlands.
The 92-metre-long bridge in Stechford is being built by Network Rail in partnership with HS2 so future tracks for Britain’s new zero-carbon railway can pass underneath it.
Over the Early May Bank Holiday, an old railway viaduct on the Stechford to Aston freight line above was demolished ready for the new structure to be driven into place this coming weekend (7-8 May).
The new 2,600-tonne structure, known as the SAS 13 bridge, has been pre-assembled by contractor Skanska over the last 22 months in a huge compound beside the existing railway lines.
This construction method reduces carbon emissions and cuts the number of lorry movements on local roads, minimising impacts on the local community.
In numbers, the SAS 13 bridge:
- Weighs a total of 2,600 tonnes (equivalent to 940 Mini Cooper cars)
- Spans a distance of 92 metres
- Is held together by 26,715 bolts weighing a total of 25 tonnes
- Is made from 3,601 cubic metres of concrete
- And 1,118 tonnes of steel
- Is an investment of £85m to ready the existing railway for HS2
End to end the new metal bridge is 92 metres long – four metres shorter than London’s Elizabeth Tower – the home of Big Ben.
This coming weekend 18 huge remote-controlled vehicles known as Self Propelled Modular Transporters (SPMT) will drive the new 2,600 tonne metal and concrete bridge into place before tracks are re-laid so trains can run again on Monday 23 May.
Each SPMT has 24 wheels, meaning 432 wheels will carry the load when the bridge is driven into its final position.
Today (Wednesday 4 May) an animation created by contractor Skanska has been released showing just how the complex work will be done.
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.”
To carry out the work safely, CrossCountry services between Birmingham New Street and Coleshill Parkway are being replaced with rail replacement buses each weekend in May*.