Network Rail is undertaking a £1.6 million project on the Clyde viaduct, which is of vital importance to the West Coast Mainline.
The work required will replace bearings under the bridge deck of the viaduct that have begun to show signs of wear and tear, as well as general deterioration.
Located above the River Clyde, close to Uddington, the 90-metre steel structure stands on three sandstone piers, with the bearings sitting between the bridge deck and the piers, controlling movement in the structure and absorbing stresses generated by the trains travelling above.
The replacement of the bearings is crucial for safety – that much is clear; given it’s also part of the West Coast Mainline, the significance is even greater.
The line itself is one of the most important railway corridors in the United Kingdom, connecting London with Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester and Glasgow.
As one of the busiest mixed-traffic railway routes in Europe, the line is relied upon by commuters and the general public who use commuter services, the businesses that need these services, and freight traffic too.
Upgrades have recently taken place further down south on that particular line and now, the bearings will be replaced on the Clyde viaduct which is now more than 140 years old – so that the strategically important West Coast Mainline is able to run.
In total, 12 sliding bearings – four on the east abutment and eight on the west pier – will be replaced; although the new bearings weigh more than 140kg each, their modern design makes them much less bulky than those they are replacing.
Jeremy Spence, Network Rail programme manager, commented on the scheme.
He said: “Our structures are subject to a regular programme of inspection and routine minor maintenance which allows us to monitor their condition and react if any faults develop or the condition deteriorates to the point where we need to intervene.
“Having reached that point on the Clyde viaduct, the challenge from an engineering perspective was to come up with a way to replace the bearings while keeping the railway open.”
Network Rail expect the bearings to be replaced and site compound cleared by the end of the year.