Express & Star

Work continues to replace iconic Barmouth Viaduct

Network Rail says work is going well in the final stage of the refurbishment of Barmouth Viaduct.

Barmouth Viaduct

A 13-week closure began at the start of September to enable engineers to replace the metal elements of the 154-year-old Grade 2 Listed Welsh viaduct on a like-for-like basis.

This includes the removal of the two metal spans, which weigh 160 tonnes each.

In late August, a practice operation took place on a mock railway track nearby, to test the cantilever and jack system that is being used to lift two newly fabricated spans into place.

With one newly fabricated span weighing the same as an average adult blue whale, teams had to utilise more than 16 jacks – ranging from 20 to 100 tonnes capacity – as well as six rail trailers to carry out the technical move.

Work first began on the iconic structure in 2020, with some £30 million having already been spent on replacing timber beams and other strengthening work.

The two metallic spans are being lifted onto the viaduct and transported via rail, to their new home, on the northern end of the bridge. The old span is being taken apart, piece by piece, on to a pontoon in the Mawddach Estuary.

In addition to replacing the metallic span, Network Rail is replacing 130-metres of new track near the old Barmouth Toll House, on the northern edge of the viaduct and carry out further track upgrade work at Dovey Junction.

The viaduct is closed until November 24 for the refurbishment of the metal sections of the bridge. Network Rail teams are then planning to renew the tracks near to Barmouth Toll House, on the northern end of the viaduct, in a project up to the start of December.

Transport for Wales is operating a combination of bus replacements and train services along the Cambrian Coast line.

Nick Millington, route director for Network Rail Wales & Borders, said: “We’re delighted to begin the final, and most visually exciting, stage of our multi-million-pound restoration of Barmouth Viaduct, with our focus now on restoring the metallic elements on a like-for-like basis.

“A huge part of this phase of work has been planning the replacement of the 160-tonne metal spans, a feat of engineering that has involved months of preparation to develop a unique delivery and installation system. We have also worked closely with our partners at Natural Resources Wales to ensure we’re doing everything we can to protect the delicate ecology of the Mawddach Estuary.

“As the railway and footpath across the viaduct will need to be closed for the duration of our work to ensure everyone’s safety, I would like to thank everyone for their patience as we carry out this vital work, which will protect this important and iconic rail link for years to come.”

Colin Lea, Planning and Performance Director at Transport for Wales, said: “This investment in one of the most iconic railway bridges in the world by our partners Network Rail will secure the future of the Cambrian coast line for decades to come.

“This vital improvement work to replace the metallic spans does mean train services will need to be replaced with road transport until early December, and customers should check journey times before they travel.”