HomeIndustry NewsProject to replace Nuneham viaduct support completes ahead of schedule

Project to replace Nuneham viaduct support completes ahead of schedule

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Engineers worked around the clock to safely reopen Nuneham Viaduct, in Oxfordshire, on Friday 9 June.

The railway between Didcot and Oxford was closed on Monday 3 April after significant movements in the viaduct were detected due to emerging structural issues with the south bank abutment. The abutment was built as part of the original viaduct in 1856.

The rail industry, including Great Western Railway (GWR), Chiltern Railways, and CrossCountry, worked closely to keep passengers moving during the closure, whilst Network Rail’s engineers and contractors at Balfour Beatty carried out emergency repairs, which completed, ahead of schedule.

On Friday 9 June, the first passenger service to cross the viaduct in just under 10 weeks was a GWR shuttle train between Oxford and Didcot.

Around 800 people worked nearly 60,000 hours to successfully install the new steel support, which will secure the future of this important rail link for generations to come.

In the final week of the major project, the 150-tonne bridge was lowered onto the new abutment and a new embankment built, before the railway tracks and cables were put back in place.

Network Rail capital delivery director Stuart Calvert said: “We’re extremely pleased to be able to reopen the railway through Nuneham, ahead of schedule, on Friday 9 June.

“A complex and challenging repair like this would normally take two to three years to complete, but thanks to the hard work and dedication of our talented teams of engineers and industry experts, this major project has been turned around in just under 10 weeks.”

The repair of the viaduct was complex, challenging and required some heavy engineering:

Twenty-four 15-metre-long steel piles were driven into the bed of the River Thames to create a solid platform for the temporary structure that held the weight of the viaduct while the abutment was demolished and rebuilt.  Eight more piles were driven up to 20 metres into the embankment to support the new structure. A 750-tonne crane was used to lift the temporary structure into place.

Over 4,000 tonnes of material removed from the old embankment and 5,500 tonnes of material brought back in to build the new embankment.

Mark Hopwood, managing director at GWR, said: “We’re delighted Network Rail has been able to finish its work ahead of schedule and we have been able to reintroduce services between Oxford and Didcot. We look forward to welcoming people back and thank them for their patience and understanding over the past two months.

“This is a crucial part of our network and I’d like to thank our colleagues at Network Rail and fellow train operators for their support and hard work throughout this difficult period. I’d also like to thank GWR colleagues who have gone above and beyond to keep customers on the move.”

Elizabeth Jackson, customer service manager for the West & Wales at CrossCountry added: “We’re very pleased the line has now reopened, which is good news for customers.

“We worked collaboratively with industry colleagues to ensure customers were impacted as little as possible and, now Network Rail’s work is complete, CrossCountry customers will benefit from direct connectivity from Reading and Oxford to the Midlands and North East.”

Image credit: Network Rail


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