Norbiton Railway Bridge Replacement – Like a Ballet

It has been four days since the temporary closing of Norbiton Railway Bridge, so that it could be replaced after being used since 1869. This 2.9 million Pound (£) replacement was organised like a ballet, with orange clad workers buzzing around the project like bees around a honey pot, each having a particular job to do, each having a piece of the jigsaw to put into place to complete the whole.

The whole project was planned with precision, like a battle.

I was shown the gantt chart, the plan of how the replacement was to take place, and each task had its place on the chart, and the time the task was to start, and the time it was to finish.

At the start of the project on the first day they were one and a half hours behind, but working twenty-four hours, by the second day they were an hour and a half ahead of the schedule.

One can understand the schedule has to be precise, because if the next part of the rebuild requires premixed concrete, and the deliver lorry arrived on time but the workers were ahead of schedule, there would be a lot of standing around. Then if they re-ordered to concrete to arrive early, perhaps the lorry could not get through to the delivery spot as another lorry could be parked there, delivering some other component.

The new railway bridge open for business at
Norbiton Station

I think the next task will be from information I received will be the lengthening of the platforms to cater for ten carriage trains, not only to stations like Norbiton, but also to the main London Waterloo Station, which I am told will require the removal of the central concourse, as the tracks will be extended into that area, with access to the platforms from beneath what is the concourse now.

Those that know London Waterloo Station may ask, why not increase the capacity of the terminus by using the now empty EuroStar platforms, as EuroStar, the continental rail link, has move to London Paddington Railway Station? The answer I am told is that the current South West Trains (SWT) carriages will not fit into the platforms, as EuroStar is a narrower train to the standard British train. Why the planners, knowing that there was only a short life span of EuroStar Waterloo, not facilitate at the beginning the idea of being able to widen the gap after EuroStar move stations, simply by adding a bolt-on extension, making it platform wider for EuroStar, then unbolt the extension for SWT’s.

Fascinating work, that I hope all of the work will last another one hundred and fifty years.

But, will we still have trains then? 

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