Network Rail completes £4.5m Findhorn viaduct refurbishment: Findhorn Viaduct

Friday 15 Sep 2017

Network Rail completes £4.5m Findhorn viaduct refurbishment


Engineers will shortly complete work on the £4.5m refurbishment of the Findhorn viaduct at Tomatin in the Scottish Highlands as part of Network Rail’s UK wide Railway Upgrade Plan.

Findhorn is widely regarded as one of Britain’s finest railway viaducts and it was designed by renowned railway engineer John Fowler who famously designed the Forth Bridge.

The nine span, 405 metre grade B listed structure which stands on granite piers 44 metres above the River Findhorn has been grit blasted, cleaned, repaired and repainted in a project which has lasted 18 months.  

To deliver the work safely, a bespoke suspended scaffold system was put in place accessed by two lifts to carry people and materials from ground to bridge level. The bridge was also ’encapsulated’ to provide the right working environment in the exposed location as well as to stop any contaminants from leaking into the air and river below – particularly during grit blasting.

The steelwork on the bridge is being painted black to match the original colour using a three coat system which protects the existing and new metal work from corrosion and provides a high quality aesthetic finish. The refurbishment of the bridge ensures that the structure will not need any significant maintenance for circa 25 years.

As well as the logistical challenges of working at height above a river, the Network Rail team with specialist contractor Taziker Industrial also had to work within the harsh realities of a Highland winter. In practical terms this meant that the bridge could only be encapsulated a section at a time to limit the effects of wind loading on the structure.

There was also a requirement to deter birds from nesting in the structure at the start of work to avoid delaying the contractors from going on site. A cast of falcons was enlisted to do this while a nest was built on a section of bridge where no work was planned.

Jeremy Spence, Network Rail project manager for Findhorn viaduct, said: “We are just about to complete work on what has been a fantastic project to repair and refurbish this spectacular viaduct.

“We take seriously our responsibility to maintain and preserve these historic structures, not just for the safe and efficient operation of the railway, but also how they look in their setting for those travelling on the railway or visitors to the area enjoying the beautiful views.

“It is hard to imagine a more stunning location for a bridge and the experience of working here over the last 18 months has been tremendous.  It gives you great respect for those who built this structure more than a century ago and we hope that our work on their bridge does justice to the legacy that we have been left by the Victorian railway pioneers.”

The scaffolding will be removed and the site compound cleared by the end of October 

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About Network Rail

Network Rail owns, manages and develops Britain's railway - the 20,000 miles of track, 40,000 bridges and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations (the largest of which we also run). In partnership with train operators we help people take more than 1.65bn journeys by rail every year and move hundreds of millions of tonnes of freight, saving almost 8m lorry journeys. We employ 38,000 people across Britain and work round-the-clock, each and every day, to provide a safe, reliable railway.

About the Railway Upgrade Plan

The Railway Upgrade Plan is Network Rail's investment plan for Britain's railways. It makes up two-thirds of Network Rail's £40bn spending priorities for the five years to 2019 and represents the biggest sustained programme of rail modernisation since the Victoria era. It is designed to provide more capacity, relieve crowding and respond to the tremendous growth Britain's railways continue to experience; passenger numbers have doubled in the past 20 years and are set to double again over the next 25 years - so we need to continue to invest in building a bigger, better railway. For passengers, that means:

  • longer, faster more frequent trains;
  • better, more reliable infrastructure; and
  • better facilities for passengers, especially at stations.

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