Work is now underway to replace more than 1,200 sleepers located on the Tay Bridge, the longest railway structure in Scotland.

This project, which will be ongoing until September, is designed to extend the life of the track and is being delivered in a way which minimises the disruption for passengers.  It represents an investment of more than £500,000 to improve the resilience and reliability of the line for passengers.

One in three sleepers including base-plates and Pandrol clips – which hold the tracks onto the sleepers – are being replaced and ballast below renewed and re-packed. This will deliver improvements to the stability and extend the lifespan of the track. 

It represents an investment of more than £500,000 to improve the resilience and reliability of the two-mile-long structure and follows on from the £75m restoration of the bridge’s metalwork completed in 2017.

Some of the sleeper’s base plates date back to the early 1960’s and the timber sleepers are now at the end of their natural life having been open to the elements and the impacts of the salty air in this exposed coastal location.

It equates to circa 60 tonnes of sleepers being installed and an equivalent amount of redundant material and spoil being removed from the bridge over the period of the project.

This approach being taken delivers a balance between maintaining the track to ensure it is fit for the volume of traffic travelling over the bridge while avoiding disruption to passenger services on the busy East Coast Mainline.

Grant Ritchie, Network Rail’s works delivery manager delivering the Tay Bridge re-sleepering project said, “We work every night to keep the railway open and running efficiently for key workers and essential journeys. Projects like this will benefit even more passengers when lock-down is lifted and we begin to move towards a new kind of normal.

“Any project on an historic and iconic structure like the Tay Bridge is always a pleasure but it presents its own problems due to its unique design and location.  Being open to the elements over the Firth of Tay is unpredictable in itself even when the work is during the summer months.

“Working in a confined location, such as on a bridge, also presents a logistical challenge in normal times but we now have the additional element of ensuring physical distancing, where possible. To do this we are following best advice, using additional protective equipment and learning new ways of working that will help keep everyone safe and let us get the job done.”