Self-propelled modular transporters with a total of 840 wheels carried out the two-hour operation, which took place near Lichfield.
The 56m-long and 19m-wide structure will allow Britain’s new high-speed railway to pass beneath the existing railway line, on its route going north of Birmingham Curzon Street Station up to Crewe.
The 6,200-tonne concrete structure, which was built adjacent to the West Coast Main Line over the last six months, was slowly manoeuvred into place using the self-propelled modular transporters. The 840-wheeled system with four carrier beams was controlled by remote steering.
Specialist lifting company Mammoet undertook the bridge move. Peter Schoenmakers, lead engineer at Mammoet UK, said: “The Fulfen Wood Overbridge installation does show that with a collaborative approach and early engagement with all involved parties during the design stage of the structure, a cost-effective and a most efficient installation method can be developed early on in the project.
“The early engagement allowed the designers of the structure to design the bridge that suited the available and existing equipment to be used and no special equipment had to be fabricated or purchased. This approach is very important from a sustainability perspective. All in all, this was a great project for Mammoet and we are proud to be part of its success.”
More than 61,000m3 of earth have already been removed and the bridge structure has taken six months to build at the side of the existing railway. Over the two days before the move, the team removed the railway track and excavated over 15,000m3 of material to create the space for the structure to be moved into.
Caroline Warrington, senior project manager at HS2 Ltd, said: “This huge feat of engineering - the UK’s heaviest single span bridge drive - is our latest big milestone as we approach peak construction on Phase One of HS2. We’re making fantastic progress on this section of the route, with over 9,000 people working on the project in the Midlands and over 29,500 on the whole project, providing a vital boost for British businesses and jobs.”
About 300 people working for HS2’s civils contractor Balfour Beatty Vinci (BBV) have delivered the work, and 200 people are working around the clock this week to move the bridge, backfill around it and put the railway back in place ready to reopen next week.
Chloe Foster-Chambers, section engineer for Balfour Beatty Vinci has been working with the team of 200 people carrying out the operation. She said: “As an engineer, big feats of engineering like this bridge drive make HS2 such a fantastic project to work on. It’s been a real team effort over the last two years, and seeing the operation successfully completed felt like a great achievement for everyone involved.”
The operation happened during a nine-day closure of the railway between Stafford and Rugby while Network Rail carry out upgrades as part of a multi-million pound investment to improve future journeys on the stretch of the West Coast main line through the West Midlands.
Specialist construction company Byrne Bros led the bridge build over the last six months. Tom Lyons, construction director for Byrne Bros, said: “Byrne Bros are delighted to have been involved in such an amazing project. The BBV team have been fantastic to work with, demonstrating great leadership, teamwork and management of a complex engineering project.”
The same transporters will be used to install another bridge a little further up, at Streethay. A 2,600t structure will be moved into place under the South Staffordshire line between Lichfield High Level station and Derby.