1,200 sleepers to be replaced on Tay Bridge

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More than 1,200 sleepers are being replaced on the Tay Bridge, the longest railway structure in Scotland.

One in three sleepers, including base plates and Pandrol clips, are being replaced and the ballast below them renewed and re-packed. This will deliver improvements to the stability and extend the lifespan of the track.

This project, which will be ongoing until September, is designed to extend the life of the track and is being delivered in a way which minimises the disruption for passengers. Replacing only one in three sleepers will improve track quality while minimising the time taken to replace them during overnight possessions.

It represents an investment of more than £500,000 to improve the resilience and reliability of the two-mile-long structure and follows on from the £75 million restoration of the bridge’s metalwork completed in 2017.

Some of the sleepers’ base plates date back to the early 1960s and the timber sleepers are now at the end of their natural life having been open to the elements and the impacts of the salty air in this exposed coastal location.

In total, some 60 tonnes of sleepers are being installed and an equivalent amount of redundant material and spoil removed from the bridge over the period of the project.

Grant Ritchie, Network Rail’s works delivery manager, said: “Any project on an historic and iconic structure like the Tay Bridge is always a pleasure but it presents its own problems due to its unique design and location. Being open to the elements over the Firth of Tay is unpredictable in itself even when the work is during the summer months.

“Working in a confined location, such as on a bridge, also presents a logistical challenge in normal times but we now have the additional element of ensuring physical distancing, where possible. To do this we are following best advice, using additional protective equipment and learning new ways of working that will help keep everyone safe and let us get the job done.”

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