In Pictures: New Thameslink Railway Bridge

By Nicolas Chinardet Last edited 81 months ago
In Pictures: New Thameslink Railway Bridge

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.

The plan shows where the new Thameslink bridge (in red) is to be positioned
The plan shows where the new Thameslink bridge (in red) is to be positioned
The bridge resting on the viaduct where it was built - Day1, 11am
The bridge resting on the viaduct where it was built - Day1, 11am
The bridge resting on the viaduct where it was built - Day1, 11am
The bridge resting on the viaduct where it was built - Day1, 11am
The jack in position under the bridge - Day 1, around 9pm
The jack in position under the bridge - Day 1, around 9pm
One of the two total stations ensuring that the bridge remains level at all time of its journey. Everything rests on this guy's shoulders... - Day 2, around 4am.
One of the two total stations ensuring that the bridge remains level at all time of its journey. Everything rests on this guy's shoulders... - Day 2, around 4am.
The bridge had gone slightly off level, this guy's job was to redress the balance - Day 2, around 4am.
The bridge had gone slightly off level, this guy's job was to redress the balance - Day 2, around 4am.
The bridge moved about 50cm at a time before level was checked (top speed doesn't excess 20m/hr) - Day 2, around 5am.
The bridge moved about 50cm at a time before level was checked (top speed doesn't excess 20m/hr) - Day 2, around 5am.
The jack carrying the front of the bridge and its dozens of wheels - Day 2, around 5am.
The jack carrying the front of the bridge and its dozens of wheels - Day 2, around 5am.
Still a long way to go - Day 2, around 6am
Still a long way to go - Day 2, around 6am
The bridge is now in location - Day 2, around 11am
The bridge is now in location - Day 2, around 11am
The back of the bridge as it waits to be lowered into position - Day 2, around 11am
The back of the bridge as it waits to be lowered into position - Day 2, around 11am
The bridge waiting to be lowered in position - Day 2, around 11am
The bridge waiting to be lowered in position - Day 2, around 11am
Et voilĂ ! The bridge was lowered in position on the afternoon of Day 3
Et voilĂ ! The bridge was lowered in position on the afternoon of Day 3
Visual of the planned Borough Market shopfront in the new space created by the viaduct
Visual of the planned Borough Market shopfront in the new space created by the viaduct

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.

Last Updated 03 May 2011