There was a mild case of “where did THAT come from” this Sunday morning on Borough High Street as tourists and locals alike gawped at the closed-off northern section of the street now dominated by a new giant railway bridge.
Watching a railway bridge being wheeled into place inch by inch over a Saturday night was certainly an interesting change to the excitement of the bank holiday week-end; but excitement, as the reluctant snail was slowly coerced to its new home, there was little.
The operation, which was due to start at 7pm on day 1, only really found its slow momentum around 4am, a couple of hours after it should have finished. But by 11am the next day, when we returned for our fourth shift behind the camera, the bridge was where it should be, “only” needing to be lowered into position. This took place on Monday morning.
Such pieces of engineering are normally moved into place laterally but because of a need to limit disruptions to the area (in that scenario, the bridge would have had to be built off-site and brought in), it was decided to chose an innovative way of doing things. And so the bridge was built on top of an existing part of the new viaduct and slid length-wise over the road.
In another attempt to minimise disruptions to an area in full redevelopment, the building (timelapse video) and installation of the new bridge happened much in advance of when it will actually be needed. It will therefore remain unused for several years, while London Bridge station itself is transformed.
The 72-metre-long behemoth, which weighs 1200 tonnes, is part of the Thameslink project. It will double the capacity of London Bridge station towards central London. When the line is complete it will offer the first fully accessible railway access across London and, we’re promised, relieve some of the congestion on the Tube. Locally, the ground-level space created by the demolition of several buildings to the left of the bridge will enable the creation of a glassed area for nearby Borough Market.
The front of the bridge was designed to create a new visual feature for the area. What do you think?
Pictures by zefrog. Many more pictures of the night are available on flickr.