Friday 6 Feb 2004


Region & Route:
South East
Network Rail used every hour available on Sunday 1 February to replace 20 year-old wooden waybeams on the railway bridge over the River Cam at Chesterton Junction. The 75mph track is laid on longitudinal waybeams bolted together to create a bearing for the rails. Work started at 01.00 on Sunday morning with a team of trackmen removing one set of rails. A road railing crane, with a four tonne capacity, utilised the other set of tracks to remove the existing beams. New beams were then lifted and bolted into position.  Two beams, with metal through bolts came ready prepared as a ‘unit’.  14 units were used in total. 12 weighed half a tonne and were 2.5 metres long.  The final two weighed three quarters of a tonne and were 3.7 metres and 5.5 metres long.  The wooden beams are Pacific Coast Douglas Fir and have a life expectancy of 25 years. 15 staff worked over two shifts to complete this complex job, with a further team of 10 trackmen needed to re-instate the track.  Work finished ahead of schedule at midnight on Sunday night. Jon Wiseman, Network Rail General Manager said:  “This was a major job, but meticulous planning and hard work ensured that the bridge was completed within the allocated 27 hours.  Network Rail is committed to investing in its infrastructure to ensure a good performing, reliable and safe railway for it customers, the freight and train operating companies and their passengers.” Network Rail did not stop at just renewing the bridge timbers, but also completed many other work items.  Time on track, while trains are not running is precious and this closure was a good opportunity to carry out lengthy maintenance activities. New track was laid through Bottisham Road, Waterbeach level crossing.  The old track was removed, foundations renewed and new track coated in an anti-salt solution laid.  Track at level crossings is subject to high levels of salt, especially during winter months when roads are gritted.  The salt corrodes the rails and can lead to track circuit failures.  The new coating aims to protect the rail and resist against corrosion. Overhead line was also maintained during the closure. Mr Wiseman continued: “We aim to maximise any opportunity we get on track.  The line had to be closed for the bridge work and we decided to carryout as much maintenance as we could during this time.”

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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.

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