New Bridge at 4m 7c
This is what it looked like back in January when the ballast had been removed.
The South Devon Railway's Civil Engineers, having dealt with the rebuilding of the 5 span Nursery Pool Bridge last winter are tackling another bridge this winter - but instead of being 200 feet over the main River Dart, this winter's offering is a mere 9' 9" over a mere trickle of a stream. The bridge is situated at 4m 7c along the branch right alongside the Riverford Bridge overbridge where the A384 crosses the railway and the River Dart. This small underbridge was identified as requiring replacement before the line can apply for upgrading from 18 ton axleweight.
Unlike the Nursery Pool project which was all designed and planned well in advance of the start date, this project will need to be seen through right from the planning stage to completion before the line reopens on March 19th. With the old bridge exposed (see photograph) all the necessary measurements have been taken and a design has been worked up which will see the old wrought iron trough girders replaced by new sturdy 'I' section beams. At the same time new handrails will be provided to the same design as used on Nursery Pool Bridge. Another feature of the design will see the old trough girders moved sideways and retained so that the new handrails can be fixed to them.
Work is proceeding well on the replacement of the bridge at 4m 7c. Today the deck timbers were put in place, tomorrow the handrails will be fitted and on Thursday/Friday the ballast shovelled back in to sleeper level. The old bridge beams have been retained to support the new handrails. On Saturday the track will be re-laid across the bridge enabling the southern end of the branch to be reached from Buckfastleigh for the first time since mid January. That will then leave but two short weeks to sort out the rest of the winter works programme - packing and aligning the newly re-laid stretch of track at Hampstead Bridge cutting just outside Totnes. With these two jobs done the SDR will be looking to having the necessary reports prepared prior to obtaining an upgrading of its axle weight from the present 18 tons.
|The new bridge deck; note new main beams.|
|Side view from river; one of the original beams is clearly visible in its fresh coat of paint.|