Major engineering work completed at UK’s only sliding bridge

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Network Rail engineers have completed a mammoth nine-day programme of engineering work at the UK’s only sliding canal bridge in Keadby, near Scunthorpe.

Teams have worked around the clock since midnight on Saturday 17 February until the early hours of Monday 26 February to strengthen one of the canal’s walls and remove rails and track equipment that has been in place for many years, to install new replacements.

A 24.5 tonne pre-cast concrete slab has been installed on the canal’s north wall to strengthen it for years to come. To carry out this work, engineers had to drain part of the Stainforth and Keadby canal using a limpet dam, a structure positioned on the side of the canal wall which created a water-tight seal, meaning teams could carry out these vital repairs in a safe and dry environment.

On the bridge’s deck, wooden beams which had old rails on top of them have been replaced with metal supports. Two hundred metres of new rails covered in a special coating and painted white have been installed so that they absorb less heat in summer.

More than 100 engineers have been on site working on the project, which will deliver smoother and more reliable journeys for passengers and freight services on a more resilient railway.

The original bridge dates to the 1860s, before being converted into a sliding bridge in 1925. It connects Doncaster with Scunthorpe and the Lincolnshire coast and is one of the busiest routes for freight trains in the UK.

During the nine-day programme, engineers also worked at nearby Althorpe station. Teams have carried out work to the structure of the platforms and have started work to replace the station’s existing footbridge with a new one, installing a temporary structure to keep passengers connected to both platforms.

The 108-year-old footbridge will be replaced with a modern-style structure over the coming months, with the new bridge expected to open in April 2024.

Sean Ellerby, scheme project manager for Network Rail, said: “The last nine days has seen an incredible amount of hard work from our teams as they carried out a large-scale programme of improvements to the sliding bridge, railway, and canal wall in Keadby.

“These vital upgrades will improve reliability and deliver smoother journeys for passenger and freight services for years to come, and by replacing old with new will result in less maintenance-related disruption.

“Carrying out this work over nine continuous days is more efficient and means less disruption to services than access on multiple weekends, and I would like to thank passengers and freight users for their patience and understanding while the work has been carried out.”

Image credit: Network Rail

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