IT’S the end of the line for an historic railway bridge in Leamington.
Rugby Road railway bridge over the A445 will be completely replaced between today (Thursday) and Tuesday (April 19) as part of a £2.4million investment to improve journeys between Leamington and Nuneaton.
During a full railway and road closure from late today to early Tuesday, the existing 118-year-old bridge will be removed by a huge 96-wheeled transporter vehicle known as a SPMT (self-propelled modular transporter).
The new structure, which has been built in recent weeks at the nearby Potterton Sports Fields, will be driven along the A445 and lifted into place before the railway is reinstated above ready for trains to start running again on Tuesday.
Careful checks have been made to ensure the bridge will fit when it is driven along the A445 and lampposts and street signs have also been temporarily removed.
The upgrade involves the removal of the old bridge, weighing 372 tonnes, and the installation of the new 60-tonne bridge.
It will also see 800 tonnes of railway foundation stone (ballast) being laid on the new bridge and tracks being reinstated over the new stone so trains can resume running.
A speed limit of 20mph had been in place for trains because of the old bridge’s condition.
The bridge was originally constructed around 1844. It was built to support two tracks and a platform for the northbound line to the now-closed Milverton station.
In 1904 another southbound platform was built. The station closed in 1965 and the northbound platform was removed.
Paul Randall, scheme project manager for Network Rail, said: “Replacing Rugby Road railway bridge is a complex engineering project and I’d like to thank residents and businesses in advance of this major work.
“There will be some disruption to rail and road travel during the £2.4m upgrade. That’s why we’re advising passengers to travel either side of the bank holiday weekend and to check National Rail Enquiries to plan their journeys in advance.”
Coun Alan Rhead, Warwick District Council’s (WDC) environment and neighbourhood services spokesman, said: “This is essential passenger safety work which needs to be completed by Network Rail as soon as possible.
He also promised Potterton Fields would be restored as a public space, with a number of enhancements being made to improve the biodiversity, following completion of the bridge building work.
An information helpline has also been set up for people to find out more on WDC’s website.