Friday 1 May 2020
Up, up and away: 1960s West Coast main line railway flyover has lift off
- Region & Route:
- North West & Central
Huge sections of a concrete railway flyover are being lifted out by some of the largest cranes in Europe to build the first direct rail link between Oxford, Bedford, Milton Keynes and Aylesbury in more than 50 years.
‘Bletchley flyover’ was built in the early 1960s and allows trains travelling from West to East to cross over the West Coast main line.
But now 14 of the flyover’s 37 spans need to be dismantled and rebuilt to modern standards for the East West Rail project*.
Preparatory removals of lineside equipment and overhead electric lines has been taking place for a year, with work ramping up at Easter to drill and cut out the existing concrete flyover's spans.
Weighing in at a hefty 295 tonnes, the first was ‘Span 17’ which was split into two and removed on 22 April.
The first sections of the flyover are being dismantled without the need to close the railway.
Eight sections which cross directly over the West Coast main line will cause it to be closed between the 2-3, 8-10 and 23-25 May for the rest of the flyover to be removed.
People who need to travel over these weekends are advised to check www.nationalrail.co.uk to see how travel is being impacted.
Tim Shoveller, managing director for Network Rail’s North West and Central region, said: “This is a major milestone for East West Rail - a new railway which will transform connectivity and journey times across the heart of the country. It promises to provide a greener, low carbon transport system which will bring huge benefits to passengers and businesses - driving economic growth and creating opportunities for housing and new jobs.”
Jeff Booth, project leader for East West Rail Alliance said: "My thanks to the team and everyone involved in the planning and execution of this hugely significant lift for the project. As the first span to be removed, the first significant lift we have done, and as a precursor to the removal of Span 19 in a few weeks' time, the pressure was on but we were able to completely remove the span from the structure safely and successfully as per our plan."
Passengers should continue following Government guidelines around the use of public transport during the coronavirus pandemic, and only travel if they have to.
People making such journeys should visit www.nationalrail.co.uk for the latest information.
Notes to Editors
*Once complete, phase 2 of East West Rail would connect communities and businesses between Oxford and Bedford, and Milton Keynes and Aylesbury, with:
- Two trains per hour each way between Oxford and Milton Keynes
- One train per hour each way between Oxford and Bedford
- One train per hour each way between Milton Keynes and Aylesbury
The new railway will also connect the Great Western main line, Chiltern main line, West Coast main line and Midland main line - providing passengers with much-improved cross-country rail links from East to West.
This would help create jobs, boost economic growth, encourage people out of their cars and onto public transport and enable sustainable housing development for generations to come.
East West Rail phases explained
The East West Rail project is planned to be built progressively in phases, and once constructed would create a world-class rail link connecting Oxford, Bicester, Milton Keynes, Bedford and Cambridge.
East West Rail phase 2 is part of the wider East West Rail proposal to connect Cambridge to Oxford.
The Western Section (phase 1), which operates services between Oxford and Bicester was completed in December 2016. The Western Section (phase 2) proposes to extend services from Oxford to Bedford and Milton Keynes to Aylesbury.
The Central Section (phase 3) would see the full reconnection from Cambridge to Oxford, and the proposal is currently in development.
For more information you can visit: www.networkrail.co.uk/east-west-rail/
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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.
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.