Home General Interest 1,200 sleepers to be replaced on Tay Bridge

1,200 sleepers to be replaced on Tay Bridge

More than 1,200 sleepers are being replaced on the Tay Bridge, the longest railway structure in Scotland.

One in three sleepers, including base plates and Pandrol clips, are being replaced and the ballast below them renewed and re-packed. This will deliver improvements to the stability and extend the lifespan of the track.

This project, which will be ongoing until September, is designed to extend the life of the track and is being delivered in a way which minimises the disruption for passengers.  Replacing only one in three sleepers will improve track quality while minimising the time taken to replace them during overnight possessions.

It represents an investment of more than £500,000 to improve the resilience and reliability of the two-mile-long structure and follows on from the £75 million restoration of the bridge’s metalwork completed in 2017.

Tay bridge.

Some of the sleepers’ base plates date back to the early 1960s and the timber sleepers are now at the end of their natural life having been open to the elements and the impacts of the salty air in this exposed coastal location.

In total, some 60 tonnes of sleepers are being installed and an equivalent amount of redundant material and spoil removed from the bridge over the period of the project.

Grant Ritchie, Network Rail’s works delivery manager, said: “Any project on an historic and iconic structure like the Tay Bridge is always a pleasure but it presents its own problems due to its unique design and location.  Being open to the elements over the Firth of Tay is unpredictable in itself even when the work is during the summer months.

“Working in a confined location, such as on a bridge, also presents a logistical challenge in normal times but we now have the additional element of ensuring physical distancing, where possible. To do this we are following best advice, using additional protective equipment and learning new ways of working that will help keep everyone safe and let us get the job done.”

Nigel Wordsworth BSc(Hons) MCIJhttp://therailengineer.com

SPECIALIST AREAS Rolling stock, mechanical equipment, project reports, executive interviews


Nigel Wordsworth graduated with an honours degree in Mechanical Engineering from Nottingham University, after which he joined the American aerospace and industrial fastener group SPS Technologies. After a short time at the research laboratories in Pennsylvania, USA, Nigel became responsible for applications engineering to industry in the UK and Western Europe. At this time he advised on various engineering projects, from Formula 1 to machine tools, including a particularly problematic area of bogie design for the HST.

A move to the power generation and offshore oil supply sector followed as Nigel became director of Entwistle-Sandiacre, a subsidiary of the Australian-owned group Aurora plc. At the same time, Nigel spent ten years as a Technical Commissioner with the RAC Motor Sports Association, responsible for drafting and enforcing technical regulations for national and international motor racing series.

Joining Rail Engineer in 2008, Nigel’s first assignment was a report on new three-dimensional mobile mapping and surveying equipment, swiftly followed by a look at vegetation control machinery. He continues to write on a variety of topics for most issues.

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