Extending the world’s oldest cast iron railway bridge – BAM Nuttall Ltd

BAM Nuttall are restoring Bridge 184 on the East Coast mainline – a unique structure encompassing eight interlinked working bridges, with one dating back to 1870.

The original scope of the work was to carry out survey and design works for Network Rail on two of the eight structures making up the bridge. However, the original brief expanded into a much larger project over the last two years.

Bridge 184 is made up of eight bridges all interlinked of varying ages and originally constructed using varying methods and materials, with one of the bridges being the oldest cast iron bridge in the world carrying mainline rail traffic.

The project has grown into carrying out repairs, strengthening, waterproofing, grit-blasting and painting works to the two original bridge structures.

Further works  were introduced to replace key bridge elements such as walkways, long timbers, and working with Network Rail to carry out strengthening works to two additional bridges. This included ground investigation, ground stabilisation and reinforced concrete lining to brick arches.

Bam Nuttall’s River Nene project is located in a busy public area just outside Peterborough City Centre, surrounded by 220 homes and local businesses, which made careful consideration of the local community a top priority for the project.

Robert Lewis, Site Manager BAM Nuttall Ltd commented on the challenge of the project location:

“We have to remember that sometimes just our presence can be a nuisance to others, especially in built up areas and certainly in town and city centres. We can have an impact on a huge amount of people without even realising it. The big challenge is making that impact a positive one – one that we can leave behind and enable others to benefit.”

Here are some examples of best practice initiatives carried out by BAM Nuttall Ltd:

  • Local residents were visited if they asked for further information and regular meetings were held for residents to attend. This was also an opportunity to receive feedback and advice on improving things for the community.
  • A number of previously deprived areas were cleaned up with walls painted to remove graffiti, trees planted and information days held in public areas about Health and Safety issues.
  • Key information was provided to British Transport Police to help reduce crime in the area.
  • Helped two local charities improve and update their venues, including the Nene Valley Railway.
  • Helped railway volunteers carry out vital bridge repairs in a five-day shutdown, finishing well in advance of the deadline.
  • Pre-start ecological audits highlighted the river as the only major risk area.This risk was minimised by liaising with the Environment Agency and monitoring river water half hourly.
  • Mock drills were conducted involving numerous emergency services, along with professional actors in and around site and public areas, including the river itself.
  • The site was fully prepared for emergency situations, which was highlighted by a member of the site team assisting in the rescue of a disabled person in a wheelchair who had fallen into the river. Click here to find out more about this river rescue.


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