Work under way to replace sleepers on Tay Bridge

The project, which will extend the life of the railway track between Dundee and Fife, is expected to last nightly until September.

Work under way to replace sleepers on Tay Bridge Network Rail
Tay Bridge: The work is expected to last until September.

Work is now under way to replace more than 1200 sleepers on the Tay Bridge.

The project, which will extend the life of the railway track between Dundee and Fife, is expected to last nightly until September but has been designed to minimise disruption for passengers on the East Coast Main Line.

One-in-three sleepers including base-plates and Pandrol clips – which hold the tracks onto the sleepers – are being replaced and ballast below renewed and repacked. 

Work: The project represents an investment of more than £500,000.
Work: The project represents an investment of more than £500,000.

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 £75m restoration of the bridge’s metalwork completed in 2017.

Network Rail said some of the 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 the bridge’s exposed coastal location.

The work will equate to around 60 tonnes of sleepers being installed and an equivalent amount of redundant material and spoil being removed from the bridge over the period of the project.

Night-time: The project has been designed to minimise disruption for passengers.
Night-time: The project has been designed to minimise disruption for passengers.

Grant Ritchie, works delivery manager for Network Rail, said: “We work every night to keep the railway open and running efficiently for key workers and essential journeys. 

“Projects like this will benefit even more passengers when lockdown is lifted and we begin to move towards a new kind of normal.

“Any project on a 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.”