First train runs on newest and longest railway bridge in the Midlands

The Midlands’ newest and longest railway bridge is now fully functional after carrying its first freight train.

Tracks have reopened on the Stechford to Aston freight line in Birmingham following the installation of a massive 2,600-tonne bridge built by Network Rail in partnership with HS2.

At 92 metres long, the steel and concrete structure becomes the longest single span railway bridge in the Midlands.

It needs that clearance underneath so future tracks for Britain’s new zero-carbon railway can be built below for HS2 trains to access its Washwood Heath depot.

The demolition of the old railway viaduct and installation of the new bridge has closed this connection to Birmingham rail freight terminal for 23 days.

But now the first train passed over the new structure, reopening the rail freight route and marking a milestone for project contractor Skanska.

Patrick Cawley, director for ‘On Network Works’ for Network Rail and HS2, said: “Seeing the first train pass over this iconic structure is a proud moment for the hundreds of people who’ve worked throughout the pandemic to make this new bridge a reality.

“It’s also a key part of the jigsaw to ensure the existing railway network works in harmony with HS2. I’m conscious this work has disrupted some passenger journeys over recent weeks and I’d like to thank CrossCountry customers for their patience while we carried out this major project.”

Rosario Barcena, Skanska Rail programme director, said: “Installing a railway bridge over an existing railway line is a complex engineering project that requires a huge amount of skill and dedication from all those involved. To have delivered this on time and despite of Covid-19 restrictions is a fantastic achievement and testament to the team involved.”

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