Height of Scotland’s ‘most bashed’ bridge to be increased

Network Rail

WORK to replace the bridge deck on Scotland’s most frequently struck bridge is to get underway.

The Network Rail and North Lanarkshire Council project will aim to raise the height of Wishaw’s Bellside Bridge to prevent it from being damaged by high-sided vehicles.

When a vehicle strikes the railway bridge, which passes over the A73, the road and rail line must be closed to allow for an inspection to be carried out – with traffic being diverted through Cleland village.

Story Contracting is to undertake the works, which Network Rail anticipates will take eight weeks to complete. It will see the existing bridge deck replaced with a thinner one, which the organisation said will provide additional headroom under the structure.

As a result, it will remove its classification as a low bridge and the need for a signed diversion route through Cleland for high-sided vehicles. Network Rail added that the impact of bridge strikes on the local road network will be reduced and trains will be able to run more safely and reliably.

Councillor Michael McPake, convener of the environment and transportation committee at North Lanarkshire Council, said, “The work at Bellside Bridge will bring significant road safety improvements for residents and businesses in Cleland, as heavy lorries will no longer need to travel through the village.

“Thanks to our partnership work with Network Rail, a long-term solution to the problem of lorries striking the bridge will be delivered before the end of this year.”

Stewart Lothian, Network Rail’s structures asset manager for Scotland, added, “This bridge is the most bashed in the country and has been struck 56 times over the last decade causing over 3,000 minutes of delay to trains.

“We are pleased to have been able to work with North Lanarkshire Council to find a long-term solution to this problem which will improve performance and enhance safety on our railway.”