Lifting Gear UK has developed a new solution for the removal of concrete bridges over railway lines, with minimal disruption to lines and surrounding environments, along with improved safety.
The innovation was first developed to assist main contractor J.Murphy & Sons in the removal of an old concrete bridge over a main railway line near Stockport, UK.
Network Rail tasked Murphy with removal of the concrete footbridge as quickly as possible in the face of growing concerns over the bridge’s potential for collapse.
With Network Rail also insisting on minimal disruption to the railway line and nearby roads, Murphy approached Lifting Projects UK Ltd, the specialist heavy lifting division of Lifting Gear UK Group Ltd, to help find a solution.
Lifting Gear UK Operations Director Chris Turner came up with the solution to meet the brief, while ensuring safety was not compromised.
He says: “Conventionally, when carrying out this type of work, it is commonplace for the bridge to be broken up in situ and allowed to fall onto wooden bog mats that protect the railway lines, from where it is then cleared away. But in this case, it was not possible to demolish the structure in-situ due to the presence of multiple sets of OHLE Equipment.
“Our solution was to remove the entire 92 tonne bridge in one go, which made it a much quicker and more cost-effective method.”
Realising that no equipment already existed for the specific task, Lifting Gear UK worked with its subsidiary Steelwise to devise a solution, which resulted in the creation of the C-Hook.
Steelwise Technical Manager Alastair Clark and Design Engineer Will Almond designed, fabricated and tested the new C-Hooks before deploying them successfully onsite.
Chris Turner says: “Each hook weighs 3.5 tonnes and is capable of lifting up to 25 tonnes, in this case also with 26 metre support beams bolted to the C-Hook. This provided complete support for the full length of the footbridge, which was required as the bridge was a pre-tension design.
“The principle behind the idea is relatively simple and was based on how a crane pallet fork works. The challenge for Steelwise was making it work on a much bigger scale.”
The C-Hooks were deployed to the Stockport site in May of 2020 using a CC2800 crane supplied by Ainscough Crane Hire Limited and the bridge removal was completed within a weekend possession, providing minimal disruption to the railway line and surrounding roads.
Chris Turner says: “Although specifically designed with this project in mind, these hooks could be used in pairs for numerous applications where under beams would traditionally be used, and they are now available to hire as a full-time part of the Lifting Gear UK hire fleet.”
With its headquarters in Skelmersdale, Lancashire, the Lifting Gear UK Group spans 11 depots throughout the UK. The group is made up of four companies: Lifting Gear UK, Lifting Projects UK, Steelwise and Lifting Gear Training UK.
Lifting Gear UK provides hire, sales and service for a comprehensive range of lifting products and equipment. Lifting Projects UK provides planning, equipment and project management consultancy services. Steelwise provides design and fabrication of lifting equipment and bespoke equipment to meet difficult challenges for which solutions do not already exist and often works alongside clients to develop new systems of lifting to meet specific needs. Lifting Gear Training UK offers a comprehensive range of training services for the lifting sector.