Bridge lift in Ravenscraig on track to make European history

One of the largest bridge lifts in European history is on track to take place in North Lanarkshire next month.

The 5,000-tonne railway crossing is set to be moved into position on the West Coast Main Line (WCML) at Ravenscraig.

The installation is part of a £16.9m project to allow for the construction of a new road underneath the railway line.

The project - part of the ongoing regeneration of the former steelworks site - is being delivered through an agreement between North Lanarkshire Council and Network Rail.

Over the past 10 months, Network Rail and Story Contracting engineers have been casting the bridge at Network Rail's compound next to the WCML.

The next phase will see teams working to excavate 36,000 tonnes of material from the railway embankment. Track and overhead line equipment will also be removed.

The bridge and support structure, totalling around 6,000 tonnes, will then be driven into position using remote-controlled vehicles (self-propelled modular transporters) in what is believed to be the biggest move of its kind in Europe.

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The track and overhead line equipment will then be reinstated before a series of signalling work takes place and the line reopened.

Once the new bridge is in place, the council will progress with the construction of a new dual carriageway with pedestrian and cycle paths from Airbles Road/Windmillhill Street to Robberhall Road, as part of a wider investment to open the area for future development.

The bridge move is expected to take place between 1 and 10 April.

Councillor Paul Kelly, deputy leader of North Lanarkshire Council, said: "Completion of the bridge is a vital step in constructing the new road and opening up Ravenscraig for investment and regeneration for many years to come."

The bridge and new road, to be built by North Lanarkshire Council, are the first parts of the £127.2m Ravenscraig Access Infrastructure (RAI) project, supported by £61.9m of funding from the Glasgow City Region Deal.

It is hoped the project will improve connections north to the M8 and south to Motherwell and the M74.

The work is being carried out at the same time as the £160m investment at Carstairs on the WCML to reduce disruption for customers. ScotRail services between Glasgow Central and Lanark will be affected, so passengers are being urged to check their journeys in advance.

Jeremy Spence, senior programme manager at Network Rail, said the "sheer size" and scale of the bridge "represents a significant piece of engineering work".

He added: "Once our work is complete, it will allow the council to continue the regeneration of the area that will bring vacant and derelict land back into use while helping to create jobs and connecting people and businesses across the whole region."