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The Widnes Runcorn Railway Bridge refurbishment, Liverpool

Event organised by ICE

09 March 2020

This event has now ended

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The Widnes Runcorn Railway Bridge (The Aethelflaeda Bridge) is a major railway bridge on the West Coast Mainline to Liverpool. The bridge crosses the Mersey Estuary via 3 x 93m span wrought iron trussed girders on masonry piers 23m above the surface of the water. The bridge was designed and built 1863–68 by William Baker, chief engineer to the London and North West Railway to “cut the corner” into Liverpool. October 2018 marked 150 years since the bridge was officially opened to rail traffic.

The bridge has a long-standing problem with structural movement of the piers, evidenced by a number of large cracks in the masonry. The movement is believed to be the result of seized bearings. Despite these concerns, the 150 year old bridge remains in serviceable condition for current and possible future loads due to HS2.

Buckingham Group were appointed by Network Rail to carry out intrusive investigations and structural assessments to inform a future bearing replacement scheme to improve the articulation of the bridge. As part of these investigative works, a need for more urgent refurbishment of parts of the structure was also identified. Dealing with a historically epic structure in such an environment presented major challenges in several disparate areas – logistics, health and safety and technological compatibility amongst others.

The talk will deal with how the challenges were met and how the bridge was equipped to meet its function as a vital part of the railway system today and into the future. There will also be a summary of the initial development work for a possible bearing replacement scheme.

Organised by ICE Merseyside in conjunction with the Heritage Engineering Group.

For more information please contact:

Lauren Moczulski