Castelton bridge aerial, Network Rail, c NR Air Ops

A new bridge across the M62 is coming in September. Credit: NR Air Ops

Network Rail gears up for £22m Castleton bridge replacement

Main contractor John Murphy & Son will take apart the 2,000-tonne rail bridge between Manchester and Rochdale, building a new version on site in September.

The Castleton bridge is part of the Manchester to Leeds route, carrying both freight and passenger services. The bridge, which is technically known as bridge 48A, is also part of Network Rail’s diversionary route for during the TransPennine route upgrade process.

Network Rail acknowledged the 42-metre bridge is in need of repair for safety reasons, adding that as a post-tensioned structure the bridge’s lifespan has been limited. A more robust bridge is needed, given the amount of services that pass along it.

“Castleton bridge is an essential part of the country’s freight network and is on a key freight route across the Pennines, which links the west and east sides of the country,” said David Hunter, senior freight manager at Network Rail.

He continued: “Heavy freight trains, which deliver aggregate products so the construction sector can keep building roads and houses, run over the bridge as well as several daily biomass services to Drax power station, which provide power to the national grid for electricity.”

His sentiments were echoed by Network Rail sponsor Olivia Boland.

“The replacement of Castleton bridge is essential for the safe running of our railway, and crucial to the country’s economy as 6% of the UK’s energy supply relies on the bridge for transportation,” she said.

The work programme includes the removal of the top of the existing bridge. This will then be disabled and removed from the premises along the M62, which passes below the bridge. The materials for a nearly like-for-like replacement (with the key change being the use of weathered steel as a core material) will be brought in by the M62, with the new bridge being assembled and installed on site.

The process will result in the temporary halting of rail services between Manchester Victoria and Rochdale from 6-24 September, and the closure of the M62 during the weekend of 6 September and 20 September.

Learn more about the replacement bridge by searching 23/00744/PRA56 on Rochdale Council’s planning portal.

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If it had been built properly in the first place it wouldn’t need replacement.

By Robert White

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