The section of the Gull Wing Bridge in Lowestoft was installed over the East Suffolk railway line during a weekend-long track possession. Farrans is building the bridge for Suffolk County Council.

The North Approach Viaduct (NAV1) section arrived at the construction site on Lake Lothing in March following a 32-hour crossing from Victor Buyck Steel Construction in Ghent in Belgium. It weighed 380 tonnes on delivery. Since then, the bridge has had a reinforced concrete deck and parapets added to it and it weighed close to 1,450 tonnes when moved to its final position.

The operation began at midnight on Friday evening and concluded today (24 October) at 5am when the line was returned to Network Rail.

NAV1 was moved using self-propelled modular transporters (SPMTs) operated by Mammoet, with 16 individual axles in two rows of two used to manoeuvre the section into its final position.

Gull Wing Bridge - installation of a 1450-tonne section using SPMTs

“This complex process has involved a large team of civil engineers and railway specialists, including assistance from Network Rail and facilitation support from Associated British Ports,” said Neil Rogers, Farrans Construction’s project director for the Gull Wing Bridge. “We have had approximately 120 operatives on site working in shifts over the 52-hour railway possession to ensure the successful installation of NAV1.”

Installation of the 1,450-tonne section of the Gull Wing Bridge

Work to construct the reinforced concrete deck, install the parapets and get the abutment and pier support structures ready began as soon as the section arrived on site in March. “Over recent weeks we have been preparing the track protection measure necessary to allow trafficking the rail lines with the extremely heavy load,” he added.

“Although planning and implementing this challenging element of the scheme has been the focus of our attention recently we have also been progressing the work associated with the other seven spans which cross Lake Lothing, including the main bascule lifting section of the bridge which will be installed next year.”

Councillor Matthew Hicks, leader of Suffolk County Council, said: “This is a significant and exciting milestone in the building of the Gull Wing bridge.

“People can now start seeing the bridge really begin to take shape, a structure which once finished will have a huge and positive impact on the town of Lowestoft and the wider area. It will open up investment into the town by tackling congestion and improving connectivity for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.”