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UK-based Network Rail and its contractor Story have concluded a £34m railway bridge protection works project in Scotland.

A team of specialist engineers worked on all 50 structures between 2019 and 2023 to protect the bridges from scour damage.

Fast-moving water slowly reduces the material surrounding the bridge’s foundations, which subsequently weakens the structure. This has been the main cause of railway bridge failures over the past 100 years.

Network Rail route delivery director Jeremy Spence stated: “Scour protection can be one of the more challenging elements of our renewals programme, as it involves working from river level much of the time, and often in areas with challenging topography that can make access difficult for our teams.

“This has been a huge undertaking by the team since the work started in 2019, and it’s great to see the successful completion of all 50 structures. The collaborative effort by Network Rail and Story has not only delivered this project on time but means we won’t need to carry out repairs on this scale for many years to come.”

Work at each bridge included the construction of a movable dam system to limit water flow.

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By GlobalData

The riverbed was contoured with a scour mattress, with its pockets filled with concrete. The mattress was then covered with the original riverbed material, restoring the area.

The main aim of the project was to increase the lifespan of the structures, the majority of which were built in the late 19th century.

Scotland’s railway managing director Alex Hynes said: “We have a responsibility to make sure assets that play such a vital role on our network are maintained to help minimise the impact of rising water levels during extreme weather, allowing us to keep trains running.”