Network Rail, fourth bridge makes final brush with a modern myth

Network Rail and main contractor Balfour Beatty Regional Civil Engineering will preside over the end of a modern myth when painting of the Forth Bridge finally comes to an end this December.

After 10 years and an investment of over £130m, the bridge will finally be free of scaffolding, with a full paint job unlikely to be required again for over twenty years.

The current contract will be completed ahead of schedule on Friday 9 December 2011. A celebration event to mark the end of the refurbishment will take place in March 2012.

David Simpson, route managing director, Network Rail Scotland commented

“Network Rail is the proud steward of our railway history, which the Forth Bridge exemplifies. Since 1890 it has been a working monument to the genius of British railway engineering. Over the last decade, the bridge has been restored to its original condition and its new paint will preserve the steelwork for decades to come.

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“The current restoration work has been ongoing since 2002 but, owing to years of underinvestment during the 70s and 80s, the scale of the job was initially unclear. Now, with scaffolding being removed and the final sections of painting being completed, we’re confident that job will be finished before Christmas.

“The paint system being used on the bridge has been used in the past on north sea oil rigs. We expect it to last in excess of twenty years but we will be back from time to time to maintain the most exposed sections of the structure.”

The current project involves more than the straightforward application of another layer of paint. Scaffolding access is erected and screened off from the environment before old layers of paint applied over the last 120 years are removed using an abrasive blasting technique. Steelwork requiring maintenance is then repaired before the new paint is applied in three protective layers.

Marshall Scott, managing director, Balfour Beatty Regional Civil Engineering, commented:

“Balfour Beatty is delighted to have played such a significant part in the restoration of the iconic Forth Bridge over the last 10 years.


“By working together in a close relationship, Balfour Beatty Regional Civil Engineering, Network Rail, the principal subcontractors and the workforce involved in undertaking this complex programme of restoration have successfully delivered a project requiring safe systems of work to overcome some of the most difficult of working conditions.

“The now fully restored Forth Bridge will continue to operate for many decades to come and it will provide the world renowned image that Scotland can be rightfully proud.

“The work that Balfour Beatty Regional Civil Engineering has provided to restore the Forth Bridge back to its original condition will remain as part of a legacy and a testament to the skills and expertise of those who built this much treasured structure more than a century ago”.

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