New bridge, new opportunities: the record-breaking lift of the Ravenscraig railway bridge.

Published On: March 31 2023

It’s probably the largest bridge move of its kind in Europe, lifting the 5,000t bridge from the side of the West Coast Main Line (WCML) at Ravenscraig and positioning it carefully under the railway line. And no doubt, load cells will be playing a major part in its carefully controlled lift and move.


Getting moving

Costing a cool £16.9m, the concrete bridge has been cast over a ten month period on a site beside the busy railway line in North Lanarkshire. The start of the moving process was to clear aside approx 36,000t of railway embankment, and removing both the track and the overhead lines.

The new bridge will be driven into position using self-propelled modular transport (SPMT). These remote-controlled vehicles will need to take the combined weight of both bridge and support structure, which is an impressive 6,000t.

Given the complexity of lifting this bridge into position, the whole operation is taking place during a 10 day period of round the clock activity from 1 – 10 April 2023. The work coincides with the closure of that section of railway line to allow the rebuilding of Carstairs Junction, to minimise disruption.


Taking the load: self-propelled modular transport (SPMT)

We don’t know which brand/make/size of SPMT is being used, but the contractors STORY did a similar (albeit smaller scale) lift two years ago for the Chiltern main line at Bicester (7) using Mammoet SPMTs.

Mammoet’s website says:

“Self-Propelled Modular Transporters consist of modules with 4, 5, 6, and 8 axle lines. Load capacity differs per version, with a maximum of up to 44 tons per axle line. The modules can be connected side-by-side and/or head-to-tail, to form large ‘platforms on wheels’. SPMTs have the possibility of 360-degree steering of the wheels. This allows carrousel and sideway movements. Their deck height can hydraulically be adjusted by approximately 60 cm., enabling vertical lifting or lowering of the load. “


What is the new bridge for?

Once the bridge is in place, it will allow construction of a new dual carriageway road to link Motherwell and Ravenscraig, part of an ongoing regeneration project for the whole area.

North Lanarkshire Council Deputy Leader Councillor Paul Kelly said:

“The new road will help us open up more opportunities for investment and regeneration at Ravenscraig, and the rail crossing is a key element in achieving our ambitions for the site. Taking the railway line over the road, rather than through a tunnel, reduces the impact on the area and allows better routes for footways and cycle paths which will run alongside the road and link to active travel routes across Ravenscraig.”

Jeremy Spence, Senior Programme Manager for Network Rail said:

“Once our work is complete, it will allow the council to continue the regeneration of the area that will bring vacant and derelict land back into use while helping to create jobs and connecting people and businesses across the whole region.”


Does your project require a not-so-little lift?

If you have a project where you need to assess pre-lift loads, contact us. We’re always happy yo talk through your requirements and help design an effective set-up using our UK made load cells.

Ravenscraig bridge project main header image courtesy of NetworkRail media centre