Osborne completes bridge lift in Buckinghamshire

Osborne successfully removed the footbridge over the railway line at Cheddington in Buckinghamshire. Avoiding disruption to Network Rail’s services and completed over a three and a half hour period, the work involved removing two spans, three staircases and two of the three trestles.

The preceding bridge was steeped in history, featuring in many of the photos of the Great Train Robbery in 1963, where the Euston to Glasgow train involved was stabled in the sidings adjacent to Platform One following the crime.

However, having been refurbished many times since its initial construction in the 1840s, the bridge required urgent replacement. A temporary footbridge opened to the public on 24 April, receiving great praise for its promise of modernisation.

Osborne began the removal work overnight on Saturday 26 April to avoid disruption to Network Rail’s services. In spite of time and access constraints, the team prioritised safe delivery above everything else and completed the tandem lift in three and a half hours.

Osborne used a crane to carry out the heavy lifting work, and all but one trestle was removed before possession of the railway was returned. This last piece of the historic bridge, situated on the central island platform, will be removed in the near future.

A tandem lift with further hot works was required to cut and remove the bridge. The key challenge was to keep the bridge stabilised and balanced during the final cut, with weight transferring to the temporary bracing arrangement prior to lifting. Following an extensive intrusive survey of the footbridge, a temporary works design was established to enable all parts of the structure to be lifted out with the minimal amount of cutting. This maximised the time available and gave a far better chance of completing the works on time. One crane was sited in an access road adjacent to Platform One with the other within the farmer’s field adjacent to Platform Four.

The replacement sections of the bridge have been constructed off-site and will be installed in the next few months, further reducing the works’ environmental impact as a result of less mileage to and from site.

Paul Fennessey, Osborne Framework Manager said: “This project demonstrates perfectly the professional and safety-led attitude we take with all our work. The team planned every aspect of the work meticulously and when we saw time was tight, the decision was made to leave the last section so it could be removed safely at a future time.”

“The time available to complete the task was a huge challenge. We were focused on the safe removal of a very ‘tired’ structure. There are always unknown factors when lifting a very old structure but the pre lift survey and existence of historical drawings showing how the bridge was constructed helped greatly. Adding to the mix was the close proximity of overhead power cables and a GSMr radio mast, as well as working at height.”

“Planning was undoubtedly the key to our success. Meetings and briefings were used to ensure all members of the team were fully aware of all aspects of the work. Experienced crane operators and steelworkers ensured that we had the best chance of achieving the goals. Team work on the night was absolutely vital and the result is a testament to Osborne and our suppliers working well together.”