A major project to refurbish a historic railway viaduct over the River Adur in Shoreham is close to completion after more than a year’s work by Network Rail engineers.
The 16-span, 360m-long Shoreham Viaduct was built in 1892 to replace the original timber trestle structure and is one of the UK’s earliest steel structures. It has now been strengthened, repaired and repainted as part of a £9.5m investment by Network Rail and a team of expert contractors, with special care paid to the unique estuary environment, which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
The work means that the viaduct will be able to carry all modern trains, including freight, while the new green and cream paint – designed to complement the local area – will protect the structure’s metalwork from the salt spray of the Adur estuary for at least 25 years.
Network Rail’s head of structures in the South East, Mark Huband, said: “With record numbers of people choosing to travel by train in the South East, it’s vital we continue to invest in the many hundreds of Victorian bridges, tunnels, viaducts and other structures which form key parts of our modern network.
“We hope our work at Shoreham Viaduct demonstrates that we take seriously our responsibility to maintain and preserve these historic structures, not just for the safe and efficient operation of the railway, but also how they look for the local community, those travelling on the railway or visitors to the area.
“It gives you great respect for those who built this structure more than a century ago and we hope that our work on their bridge does justice to their legacy.”
The redundant gas main on the south side of the structure has also been removed as part of the project, paid for by Southern Gas Network, and soon the structure will be revealed without the gas main for the first time since the early 1930s.
The works at Shoreham Viaduct are due to be completed at Christmas and will ensure that this important structure has many more years of serviceable life ahead.
Its location in the Adur means it has required regular maintenance over the years, most recently in 2004. In addition, during World War II, Shoreham viaduct was damaged by bombs on at least three occasions.