Viaduct re­vamp near end

Renowned struc­ture has been cleaned, re­painted and grit-blasted

The Press and Journal (North-East) - - NEWS - BY JAMIE MCKEN­ZIE

En­gi­neers will shortly com­plete the £4.5mil­lion re­fur­bish­ment of a land­mark rail­way viaduct in the High­lands.

The Find­horn viaduct at To­matin has been up­graded over the last 18 months as part of the rail op­er­a­tor’s UK-wide Rail­way Up­grade Plan.

Find­horn is widely re­garded as one of Bri­tain’s finest rail­way viaducts and it was de­signed by renowned rail­way en­gi­neer John Fowler, who fa­mously de­signed the Forth Bridge.

The nine-span, 442-yard grade B-listed struc­ture, which stands on gran­ite piers nearly 145ft above the River Find­horn, has been grit blasted, cleaned, re­paired and re­painted.

The scaf­fold­ing will be re­moved and the site com­pound cleared by the end of Oc­to­ber.

Jeremy Spence, Network Rail project man­ager for Find­horn viaduct, said: “We are just about to com­plete work on what has been a fan­tas­tic project to re­pair and re­fur­bish this spec­tac­u­lar viaduct.

“We take se­ri­ously our re­spon­si­bil­ity to main­tain and pre­serve these his­toric struc­tures, not just for the safe and ef­fi­cient op­er­a­tion of the rail­way, but also how they look in their set­ting for those trav­el­ling on the rail­way or vis­i­tors to the area en­joy­ing the beau­ti­ful views.

“It is hard to imag­ine a more stun­ning lo­ca­tion for a bridge and the ex­pe­ri­ence of work­ing here over the last 18 months has been tremen­dous.

“It gives you great re­spect for those who built this struc­ture more than a cen­tury ago and we hope that our work on their bridge does jus­tice to the legacy that we have been left by the Vic­to­rian rail­way pi­o­neers.”

To de­liver the work safely, a be­spoke sus­pended scaf­fold sys­tem was put in place ac­cessed by two lifts to carry peo­ple and ma­te­ri­als from ground to bridge level.

The bridge was also “en­cap­su­lated” to pro­vide the right work­ing en­vi­ron­ment in the ex­posed lo­ca­tion as well as to stop any con­tam­i­nants from leak­ing into the air and river be­low – par­tic­u­larly dur­ing grit blast­ing.

The steel­work on the bridge is be­ing painted black to match the orig­i­nal colour us­ing a three coat sys­tem which pro­tects the ex­ist­ing and new metal work from corrosion and pro­vides a high qual­ity aes­thetic fin­ish.

The re­fur­bish­ment of the bridge en­sures it not need any sig­nif­i­cant main­te­nance for about 25 years.

There was also a re­quire­ment to de­ter birds from nest­ing in the struc­ture at the start of work to avoid de­lay­ing the con­trac­tors from go­ing on site.

A cast of fal­cons was en­listed to do this while a nest was built on a sec­tion of bridge where no work was planned.

NEAR­ING COM­PLE­TION: The Find­horn viaduct has un­der­gone a ma­jor ren­o­va­tion last­ing 18 months

MSP John Fin­nie, left, and man­ager Neil Har­ri­son

Steam en­gines go across the viaduct yes­ter­day

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