At five underbridges – structures which sit under the railway - along the route, we have carried out inspections and a programme of work is now underway to bring them up to scratch.
Each structure will be grit-blasted to remove the old paint from the bridge and take it back to the base metal. Corroded sections of the bridge will be replaced and repairs carried out where needed. New timber bridge decks will be installed to strengthen and support what will soon be a double-tracked railway running over them.
The bridge will then be repainted using a special paint system that will ensure it is water-proofed and coated to protect it for 25 years.
To create the right conditions to carry out this work we will build a fully encapsulated access scaffold. This is a scaffold that surrounds the bridge on all sides - including underneath - and is fully covered and sealed.
The encapsulation protects the work from the impact of weather but more importantly is a crucial environmental protection – stopping the old toxic lead paint from leaking out into the environment. Carrying out the work in a sealed environment means that the toxic spoil can be removed in a controlled way and disposed of appropriately.
Sean Clemie, Senior Project Manager for the structures work on the route said, “In the same way as the old track bed is being dug out and replaced to bring it up to modern standards, the same principle applies with the underbridges on the route.
“Taking them back to their base metal lets us see clearly what we need to do to repair and replace any damaged or corroded steel sections, as well as strengthening the timber bridge decks.
“Once we have carried out the structural repairs, we can then apply the specialist paint system that lasts for 25 years and ensures the bridges are coated and protected against the impact of weather and corrosion – something which is particularly important in a coastal location
So, if you were wondering what was happening under the big white tents that will spring up between now and August on bridges along the route, now you know.