North Shropshire residents thanked as £2.9m bridge installation completes

Network Rail has thanked the local community and passengers for their patience following a major upgrade of a railway bridge in Wem.

Rail services between Shrewsbury and Crewe have resumed today (29 December), and Mill Street and Barkers Green have also reopened to road users, as work to replace the bridge on Mill Street has been successfully completed.

The old bridge, which had been in place for more than 100 years, had come to the end of its life, with the upgrade enabling the safe and efficient running of the railway for years to come.  

The brand-new bridge was driven into place using a self-propelled modular transporter (SPMT) on 26 December – an innovative method that meant the impact on the local community was minimised by only requiring a road closure at the roundabout for less than half an hour, compared with using a crane.

Once carefully manoeuvred into place, Network Rail engineers and contractors worked both night and day to backfill and compact the foundations for the new track bed, install the new track panels and rail and compress the ballast underneath the track.

Laura Townsend, scheme project manager at Network Rail said: “We would like to thank the local community and passengers for bearing with us over the past few weeks as we carried out this essential work.

“We know there is never an ideal time to carry out work of this type but replacing the bridge will help to ensure reliable journeys for rail passengers and road users for many more years to come and ensure that we will not have to close the road for emergency works in the future.”

Lee Robinson, Development Director Mid, North and Rural Wales at Transport for Wales, added: “Part of what makes our rail network unique is its history and heritage.  This also means that parts of our network are old and need updating and modernising to meet the needs of our customers now and in the future.

“The upgrade to the bridge at Wem is a perfect example and thank you to all our customers who have been so understanding as this work was carried out.  May this upgrade work last another 100 years!”

Further work is planned to take place up until mid-January to compress the stones underneath the new track and remove the site compound from the field adjacent to the railway behind Hazport Ltd.

Photo credit: Network Rail

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