Civil engineering for railway structures over inland waterways

Civil engineering for railway structures over inland waterways

In the past, our canals and waterways formed a fundamental part of our transportation of goods from every corner of the UK.  In the 19th century, rail transport came to transform our transport infrastructure, and, with over 10,000 miles of track running through every county in Britain, inevitably railway structures over inland waterways were created for ease of movement.

It’s for this very reason that Kaymac Marine began trading as rail specialists in 1989, working for what was then British Rail. We’re now experts in providing time-critical engineering support to rail companies so that they may offer safe, reliable and uninterrupted services to their passengers across inland waterways across the UK.

We think of inland waterways as being travel poster-style steam trains crossing far-flung lochs, and while these do exist, many of the railway structures that we repair and maintain also exist in the middle of cities or on formations such as bridges or viaducts that, if you’re not looking out of your train window on your commute to work, you may not even know exist.  Railway structures exist over the largest, smallest, most complex and most hidden of our inland waterways, and so at Kaymac Marine, we’ve become experts at creating innovative solutions to all requirements for railway structures. 

Examples of railway structures operations completed successfully by Kaymac Marine’s Personal Track Safety trained Railway Engineering Division.

Llanbrynmair Railway Bridge Scour

Deep in the heart of Mid Wales, the river Cwm meanders through valleys and down undulating hillsides and, at one point, runs under a railway bridge that serves the line from Newtown to Machynlleth.  The rural location, teamed with heavy water flow during winter months, meant that this under-bridge required attention to the damaged existing scour protection system.  This project was commissioned for one of Network Rail’s railway structures and required repointing and stitch drilling works to the archway of the bridge.  Installing a new, reinforced concrete invert was tricky in bad weather, and involved pumping the concrete directly into the watercourse within the fixed shuttering, therefore demanded thorough inspections, planning and collaboration with Natural Resources Wales to ensure minimal impact on the surrounding environment.  Two teams working 12-hour shifts to de-water, excavate, pump the concrete and successfully install a resilient scour protection system that will be there for many more years to come.

Filton Road Flood Alleviation Scheme

In railway history, Bristol’s Temple Meads Station was created as Great Western Railway’s gateway to the West, as the western terminus for the London Paddington line.  Of course, being a city sat proudly on the Avon River and all of its tributaries, much of the matter beneath the tracks in Bristol are waterways.  The Filton Brook watercourse feeds the brooks through two concrete culverts and, due to overflowing and the need for riverbank protection, Kaymac Marine was commissioned to extend both culverts.  Access to this site was poor and the work was completed within a natural watercourse, therefore planning and consultation were key.  A piped causeway was constructed to allow plant access without disturbing or polluting the watercourse, the water was diverted, the river bed was dried and work began on the 4m extensions and accompanying retaining wall.  Using precast concrete sections and additional steelwork to facilitate concrete pours, the project was completed on program and under budget.

Jane’s Creek Bridge Strengthening

As with all railway structures, prolonged rotation and movement can cause the structure to destabilise.  This was the case at Jane’s Creek, where the five-span underbridge had been deemed unsafe and required strengthening.  Spanning a tidal creek of the majestic River Medway on the East coast of England, the railway structure carries two tracks and spans two minor roads.  The original structure dated from 1856, and despite the later deck being replaced circa 1900, there had obviously been several repairs completed subsequently.  The piers adjacent to the creek had rotated and Pier 1 had been propped by a brick supporting wall that had cracked and required stabilisation.  Installing 5 ground anchors per pier and stabilising the two central piers with concrete slab bases meant that, despite low headroom under the bridge requiring specialised confined space works, Kaymac were successful in stabilizing the substructure to the clients’ satisfaction.

Traeth Mawr and Traeth Bach Viaducts

Not far from Snowdonia National Park, the Afon Dyfrdwy is traversed by rail via two viaducts at Traeth Mawr and Traeth Bach.  The challenge that these railway structures posed was that they sat on a tidal river, meaning that a combination of traditional rail, marine civil and sub-sea engineering was required to undertake the necessary works to get the timber viaducts back up to the mark.  For both structures, replacement of bridge elements was required, including replacement of decayed trestle frame timbers and corroded steel brackets.  Due to the tidal location of the viaducts, the project involved the team working from a floating plant, and were delivered to the happy client on time and within budget.

Kaymac’s Rail Engineering solutions combine scour protection works, masonry and timber bridge repairs, and culvert repairs.  Our specific method of relining culverts is so successful for reducing the lifespan of the project, therefore, reducing interruption to service, it has been named the ‘Kaymac Repair’ and has now been widely adopted across the UK as the foremost operation for culvert repair.

To find out more about our Rail Engineering operations, please visit our dedicated page here.  To learn more about our projects, visit our project Spotlight page, or follow us on social media for industry news and updates.

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