THE OLD has made way for the new in Leamington.
Network Rail worked over the four-day bank holiday to carry out a complex £2.4millon bridge replacement project at Rugby Road.
The former 118 year-old Milverton station bridge, weighing 372 tonnes, was removed and driven down the A445.
Then its 60-tonne replacement was slowly manoeuvred into place on the back of a huge 96-wheeled vehicle known as a SPMT (self-propelled modular transporter).
As soon as the last train passed late on Thursday (April 14), a swarm of engineers worked flat out to take out the railway lines, remove the old bridge, drive the new one into place then reinstate new tracks all in time for trains to run as normal again on Tuesday morning.
Now the new bridge is in position trains will be able to run over at full speed – the condition of the previous structure meant services could only run over it at 20mph.
This will improve journeys between Leamington and Nuneaton bringing faster and more reliable journeys for passengers in time for Commonwealth Games events this summer.
Hundreds of onlookers turned out across the weekend to watch the unique sight of both bridges being driven through the streets.
Paul Randall, scheme project manager for Network Rail, said: “I’m hugely proud of the team who gave up their Easter bank holiday to carry out this major work to improve railway journeys through Leamington Spa.
“Driving bridges down residential streets is no mean feat and our meticulous planning over many months meant that everything went well in time for trains to run again this morning. I’d like to thank local people for their patience and understanding while we worked day and night to replace Rugby Road railway bridge and for the work we’ve still got to do to finish the job.”
While the most challenging part of the project is now over, engineers will continue to complete work over the coming weeks.
This includes building up the walls by the side of the new bridge on the railway embankment – this will bring some single lane closures of the A445.
Some overnight work to the railway foundation stones which can only be done when trains are not running will also take place.
The old bridge will be dismantled at the nearby Potterton Sports Fields which has been used as a site compound for the work, before that itself is removed and the green space reinstated.
The old 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.