Critical phase of railway bridge replacement project about to start

Photo of the railway bridge days before its expected demolition.
Railway bridge on Gipsy Patch Lane, pictured days before its expected demolition in October 2020.

The project to replace the narrow-arched Victorian railway bridge on Gipsy Patch Lane (Little Stoke) with a much wider concrete structure enters a critical phase tonight with the start of a 13-day railway closure during which the old bridge will be demolished and its pre-fabricated replacement installed.

The work is being carried out as part of the Cribbs Patchway MetroBus Extension (CPME) scheme that aims to provide a fast and direct bus route between Parkway Station and The Mall at Cribbs Causeway.

The bridge replacement work will take place between late evening on Saturday 24th October and the early hours of Saturday 7th November. During this time Network Rail, and its contractor Alun Griffiths, will be working continuously, night and day, to remove the track and overhead line equipment, demolish the existing bridge, move the new bridge into position and reinstall the track and overhead line equipment.

Photo of the replacement bridge standing in the site compound.
The replacement Gipsy Patch Lane railway bridge stands ready in the Alun Griffiths site compound.

The planned work will involve the use of heavy machinery and noisy activities, such as excavation and further piling. The work will take place around the clock to allow as much work to be completed in the shortest possible time. Network Rail will work to minimise the disturbance and will put in place a number of noise mitigation measures such as acoustic barriers. All deliveries and construction equipment needing access during the work will enter via the A38 and the construction site on the west (non-residential) side of the bridge.

Local residents are advised to direct any questions or issues they may have about the work to the Network Rail 24-hour helpline on 03457 11 41 41.

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A South Gloucestershire Council spokesperson said:

“We understand there is a great local interest in the CPME project but everyone should observe social distancing and follow current local and national guidelines. Therefore, we would kindly ask that you do not visit the construction site, including the railway bridge area, on Gipsy Patch Lane to watch work taking place or interact with the workforce.”

“During the bridge replacement works we will be sharing updates via the project’s Facebook page, which we would encourage you to like and follow, and via Twitter”

Photo of expanded polystyrene (EPS) blocks lined up ready.
Expanded polystyrene (EPS) blocks which will be used to infill the sides of the new concrete bridge are lined up ready east of the bridge site.

For details of pedestrian access through the bridge site, ongoing road closures & diversions and disruption to train services, please see this previous article first published in our October magazine: New railway bridge set to be installed this month

Gipsy Patch Lane railway bridge replacement video

Video of the Gipsy Patch Lane railway bridge replacement - by Alun Griffiths (Contractors) Ltd.

Video by Network Rail’s bridge work sub-contractors Alun Grifiths showing how the replacement railway bridge will be constructed and moved into position: Gipsy Patch Lane Bridge Replacement

Skip to 2:05 in the video to see what’s planned over the 13-day railway closure. Here’s the script:

1. Existing OLE (overhead line equipment) masts removed in preparation for excavation.

2. PemLem (motorised trolley) units remove S&C (switches & crossings) above excavation site.

3. Road-rail vehicles remove remaining rails.

4. Excavators access track level via a ramp from the compound. Top layer is removed.

5. An excavator collapses the existing bridge down to road level.

6. Remainder is excavated and all debris transferred to ‘muck away pile’ within compound.

7. Compound fence and piling pads removed. Top of sheet piles cut to ground level.

8. Wagons turn around to move waste around and off site.

9. Pile rigs used to install sheet piles between the pile caps.

10. Hydraulic jacks used to lift [new] bridge for transport. Longitudinal beams used to spread load.

11. Bridge tracked into position during road closure.

12. Parapet wall installed with crane.

13. Embankment infilled with lightweight blocks and OLE (overhead line equipment) reinstated.

More information and related links:

Update: New bridge has become stuck; railway closure extended

Added 2nd November 2020.

A “significant issue” with moving the new railway bridge into position at Gipsy Patch Lane has left the 4,260-tonne structure stuck in soft ground about 30m short of where it needs to be. The planned 13-day railway closure, which was due to end on Friday (6th November), is to be extended.

Photo of two excavators attempting to push the bridge back.
Two excavators attempt to push the “stuck” bridge back on Saturday 31st October 2020.

Read more on our MetroBus Extension Build page.

For further updates, see this new post, published Sunday 8th November 2020:

Gipsy Patch Lane mega-bridge move runs into trouble on soft ground

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    1. No live feeds are being provided. The council doesn’t want to encourage crowds of people to go down to the site and watch when something “interesting” is happening, particularly in view of the current pandemic situation.

  1. SGC’s negative attitude to would-be viewers of the Gypsy Patch Lane bridgeworks is understandable, but it is also pathetic, and deplorable. At the very least, small carefully marshalled parties from local schools and colleges should have been shown over the site. This was a most unusual operation. It’s like will not be seen again in our area. A unique educational opportunity has been wasted by backside covering mediocrities. Some future ‘Brunels’ might have been inspired here, but it is too late now. I have made several visits, and mostly see only older people like myself, all physically distanced, and of course in the open air.

  2. I am sure that everyone in the Bradly Stoke area are not surprised given the firm doing the extension is the same one that was responsible for road works through Bradley Stoke you know the one “what Christmas”. How can a council give such important a project to this same company? Now South Gloucestershire council really are the laughing stock for giving this contract to a company that is going to cost the rate payers a fortune in the most difficult time we have had since WW2. That bridge by the way is where solders sheltering during WW2 from a German fighter plane were machine gunned down and killed, so it does have history.

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