Ainscough Crane Hire has successfully assisted in the removal and replacement of two Rail over Canal & Road Bridges along the Middlewich branch railway line, in works carried out for leading construction and engineering company J Murphy & Sons on behalf of Network Rail.
Located in Davensham, Cheshire, the work was required due to the age and condition of the existing bridge decks. The replacement bridges are now fully updated to the current design standards and will be used to transport rail passengers and freight traffic through the Northwich Junction, over the Trent and Mersey canal and Whatcroft Hall Lane.
The work is part of a larger multi-billion Great North Rail Project investment by Network Rail to improve and update freight services in the North and will prove crucial in providing service support for the expected increase in traffic volume and following the construction of HS2.
To ensure the engineering works were completed efficiently and safely, the railway line was closed for six days, before reopening to traffic once the works were complete.
Working over a period of four days, two lift teams consisting of five members from Ainscough’s Leyland depot arrived in on-site mid-November to take delivery of the bridges, before lifting them into place.
In the night team, the lift supervisor was Andy Melling; while the crane operator was Andy Surridge. There were also three slingers/signallers on the team; Steven Rowles; Mark Middleton; and Ian Stonier. The day team consisted of lift supervisor, David Hodgson and crane operator, Carl Barton. The team’s slinger/signallers were James Burrows; Darron Wilson; and Paul Kirkham. The entire team worked over a series of alternating twelve-hour shifts to get the bridges into place before the blockade was lifted.
Murphy prepared the disused line and existing structures before Ainscough arrived so that the team could get to work straight away on lifting the steel sections out of place. Once the bridges had been lifted out, the Murphy team set about reducing the abutment height to level surface for the new bridge build.
The bridge decks weighed 90.0t & 34t and were1 7.0 & 7.0m metres long, necessitating a large crane capacity. The team, therefore, used the Terex CC2800-1 crawler crane with a 72.0m SSL main boom and 300.0te of tray ballast. The Terex CC2800 was chosen due to its impressive lifting capacity combined with a more compact base, and ability to move with the load if required.
The total counterweight used was 540.0te, which was rigged three days prior to the lift taking place using a Liebherr LTM1100-5.2. Sixteen steel mats were also put in place to spread the track loads and ensure a stable base for the lift.
The project presented numerous challenges to the Ainscough team, largely due to the inclement weather conditions and the safety risk to nearby public access ways. However, access along the public highway was maintained by J. Murphy to allow local residents throughout the entire duration of the lift and all members of the team adhered to current government guidelines for safe working delivery during Covid-19.
Commenting on the lift, Dave Baxter from Ainscough’s Heavy Cranes & Special Projects division at Leyland Depot, said: “We are incredibly pleased to have completed work on installing the new underbridges for Northwich junction. The Middlewich line is a crucial area of infrastructure for the region and it is great to see further investment being put into the railway to ensure we avoid expensive and time-consuming maintenance further down the line.
“Thanks to our expert team and an effective collaborative approach carried out alongside our fantastic project partner J Murphy & Sons, the lift was completed smoothly and efficiently.”