Network Rail and main contractor Taziker have won best entry at the 2018 National Railway Heritage Awards for the £75m restoration of the Tay Bridge.

The two-decade-long refurbishment was completed in autumn 2017, with the Category A-listed structure undergoing an extensive programme of strengthening, repair and repainting works.

The iconic bridge, which carries the railway across the Firth of Tay, is the longest rail structure in Britain at 2.75 miles.

Built between 1883 and 1887, the structure consists of 80 metallic spans constructed of wrought iron and 44 masonry arches on the approaches to the north and south.

Local repairs and re-painting of its approach spans started in 1996, strengthening repairs were carried out between 2000 and 2004 and grit blasting and repainting began in 2006 – with a total of 245,000 square metres of wrought iron and steel being repainted.

Matthew Spence, Network Rail route delivery director for Scotland, said: “It is great to see the project recognised in this way and this award caps two decades of hard work in what can be extremely testing conditions.

“Delivering a job of this scale in such an exposed location has been an ongoing challenge for our engineers and our contractors, but with the refurbishment now complete, the bridge will require minimal maintenance for the next 25 years.”

The award win is the second in two years for Network Rail Scotland with the restoration of the iconic, A-listed Edwardian Wemyss Bay station being named best entry at the 2017 heritage awards.

The Inverclyde station benefitted from a two-year, £5m renovation between 2014 and 2016 which restored the station’s canopies and glazed roof, repainted and improved the station buildings and repaired the nearby seawall.