East West Rail bridges the West Coast main line at Bletchley

103 precast concrete beams were lifted into place over the railway at Bletchley over the early-May bank holiday weekend.

Rebuilding the Bletchley flyover for the East West Rail project is well underway. Eventually, it will be at the centre of the first direct rail service to connect communities between Oxford, Bedford and Cambridge in more than 50 years.

The East West Rail Alliance, which consists of Network Rail, Atkins, Laing O’Rourke and VolkerRail and is delivering the Connection Stage One phase of the scheme, has released a video showing how 103 precast concrete beams were lifted into place over the West Coast main line during a full railway closure in early May. The team used two 600-tonne crawler cranes to lift the 40 tonne-beams into place. Each lift took approximately 25-30 minutes to complete.

As well as the lifting, the complex web of 25,000-volt overhead electric cables which power trains had to be dismantled then reinstated underneath the new flyover.

Before the early May bank holiday work, the flyover’s support structure was built using 138 precast concrete shell abutments. The technique used allowed most of the new structure to be constructed while the railway stayed open so passengers were not disrupted.

Mark Cuzner, East West Rail Alliance director, said: “Bridging the gap over the West Coast main line for East West Rail has been a critical milestone for the project. It is the culmination of an enormous amount of collaborative effort by the team who have coupled good engineering with innovative thinking to overcome the many challenges posed by this complex piece of work undertaken within the railway corridor.

“With the beam installation complete, our focus now switches to reconstructing the section of the flyover which will span Buckingham Road, while also completing the new Bletchley High Level station which will provide two new platforms to connect East West Rail to the existing Bletchley station.”

The rebuilt flyover replaces a 1960s-built concrete structure which wasn’t suitable to carry the new East West railway. The huge demolition project on the old flyover took place throughout 2020.

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