Midlands’ longest railway bridge to be installed this weekend: Helicopter shot of pre-assembled SAS 13 bridge May 2022 - credit Network Rail Air Operations

Wednesday 4 May 2022

Midlands’ longest railway bridge to be installed this weekend

Region & Route:
North West & Central
| North West & Central: Central

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 
  • Spans a distance of 92 metres
  • Is held together by 26,715 bolts weighing a total of 25 tonnes
  • The whole project uses 3,601 cubic metres of concrete
  • And 1,118 tonnes of steel (equivalent to 940 Mini Cooper cars)
  • 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.

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*.

Passengers are being urged to plan their journeys in advance at www.nationalrail.co.uk or visit CrossCountry’s dedicated webpage here.

Notes to Editors

*Passenger disruption

As is always the way with a project of this scale, there is – as planned – some further work to be carried out on the following weekends:

  • Saturday 07 from 1045 – Sunday 08 May
  • Saturday 14 from 1045 – Sunday 15 May
  • Saturday 21 from 1045 – Sunday 22 May

The next major work will be taking place at weekends in August and early September.

Timetable Summary

Birmingham New Street – Leicester and stations to Peterborough, Cambridge and Stansted Airport 

From 10:45 Saturdays 23, 30 April, 07, 14 May. Sundays 01, 22 and Monday 02 May: Rail replacement road transport will operate between Coleshill Parkway, Water Orton and Birmingham New Street.

Sundays 24 April and 8, 15 May. Rail replacement road transport will operate between Nuneaton, Coleshill Parkway and Birmingham New Street.

Cardiff Central – Nottingham Trains will operate between Coleshill Parkway - Nottingham & Birmingham New Street – Cardiff Central

Cardiff Central Rail replacement road transport will operate between Coleshill Parkway and Birmingham New Street (Saturdays), Tamworth and Birmingham New Street (Sundays 24 April and 22 May).

Scotland, the North East to the South West

Trains will not call at Tamworth. Journey times will be extended by one hour.

Please check your journey before you travel. Download CrossCountry’s free Train Tickets app where you can get the latest travel updates, live train times and platform information direct to your phone and tablet.

Contact information

Passengers / community members
Network Rail national helpline
03457 11 41 41

Latest travel advice
Please visit National Rail Enquiries

Network Rail press office - North West & Central Region
0330 854 0100

About Network Rail

We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.

Usually, there are almost five million journeys made in the UK and over 600 freight trains run on the network. People depend on Britain's railway for their daily commute, to visit friends and loved ones and to get them home safe every day. Our role is to deliver a safe and reliable railway, so we carefully manage and deliver thousands of projects every year that form part of the multi-billion pound Railway Upgrade Plan, to grow and expand the nation's railway network to respond to the tremendous growth and demand the railway has experienced - a doubling of passenger journeys over the past 20 years.

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