Osprey Lifting on 6 Projects for Network Rail in UK - Video – Heavy Lift News
29 Oct 2021

Osprey Lifting on 6 Projects for Network Rail in UK – Video

Osprey teams have moved all kinds of bridges for Network Rail’s infrastructure network, creating new approaches to this particular field of specialist logistics and setting new records in the process. This has included projects for Alun Griffiths, J. Murphy & Sons, Dyer and Butler, and BAM Nuttall.


On behalf of J Murphy & Sons Limited, working for Network Rail, Osprey removed and replaced a Structure 129 railway bridge during a 72-hour possession in Warrington town centre. The project faced challenges from an early stage. Their team needed to do full swept path analysis along ¼ of a mile of the public highway, navigating both trees and street furniture.

The weathering 150t bridge was lifted clear of its abutments with the Enerpac JS250 system, aboard a 10 axle, 4 file SPMT arrangement. It was temporarily stooled at height in a designated compound. The new 26m long, 350t bridge was then loaded onto the SPMT and installed less than 18 hours after the existing bridge was lifted clear.

By using the JS250 system, Osprey showed that their team can innovate, delivering efficient and efficient operations – they have built up over 4,000 accident-free hours working alongside other contractors throughout the possession weekend. Further operations included lowering the removed bridge to the floor for demolition using their 450t gantry system.




One of their most recent completions – replacing one of Network Rail’s 1900 bridges. This involved a new type of bridge installation – direct fix – that has all the rail infrastructure in place, prior to installation. The bridge is fabricated; the concrete decks are cast, and the tracks are directly fixed, so there’s no ballast needed on the deck.

This is pivotal for Network Rail, as the underside of this new type of bridge now sits 350mm higher at the 1-in-100 flood level for the River Stour. Less risk, more sustainable infrastructure and, crucially, an increased line speed through this part of the network.



Through their customer, Dyer & Butler, they were commissioned to replace the Network Rail Penstone Bridge. This involved the tightest access and the tightest timelines too, with the full gamut of their heavy lift and transport equipment in play. That included SPMTs, climbing jacks, gantry systems, their turntable and a large amount of supporting steelwork. The infrastructure was handed back, 10 hours early.

Osprey Group Project Engineer, Ross Milne : “There’s no such thing as a standard job. Here, we were working in a tight situation but because we’d planned everything out beforehand, down to the last centimetre really, it all went to plan. Utilising a variety of equipment, including our Gen 3 Scheuerle SPMT trailers, climbing jacks and turntable we were able to overcome the challenges presented on site.”



Osprey’s teams are proud of what they do. At Warrington Bank Quay, J Murphy & Sons Limited asked Osprey to support them in the removal of one old railway bridge carrying two railway tracks, and the installation of its replacement, all over a Bank Holiday weekend.

For Network Rail, minimum downtime is crucial; railway bridge replacement operations need to be planned in detail. Despite the pandemic being in full flow at this point, and new ways of working such as Covid testing being necessary, Osprey handed back on time and on budget, as always – a reputation that Osprey are fast building up.



Sometimes, the space restrictions of a working environment mean a straight-forward move does not involve moving straight forwards. This is where Osprey excels. In Whaley Bridge, Derbyshire, the town’s Reservoir Road bridge needing a replacement. To support J Murphy & Sons Limited here, Osprey used two SPMTs set-ups, each one driven individually, to remove the two half bridge sections – each one weighing in at around 20t and install two new U-Decks weighing 60t each.

“The maximum width we could put on the road was about the same as the trailers themselves, which is about 5.5m, as we needed to move through a residential area,” says Ross Milne. “Each section is about 12m long, so we fitted a turntable to the top of each SPMT configuration. We think that’s the first time it’s been done, a bit of a unique solution for an unusual but increasingly common challenge – we’re always working in tight spaces, and we’ll take this insight on now, into other projects perhaps not even in the rail sector.”

This configuration let the heavy lift team pick each bridge section up, move clear of the abutments, and rotate the bridge so that the longer length would then run along the road rather than across it. By planning the setup and delivery of equipment down to the last detail, Osprey were able to use all the space available but minimise the disruption for the community and for Network Rail.



As part of the £57m investment into Cribbs Patchway MetroBus Extension scheme, this concrete portal and equipment weighed in at over 5,200t, making it one of the UK’s heaviest single-span bridges. Working for Alun Griffiths (Contractors) Ltd, Osprey used a 144-axle self-propelled modular transport (SPMT) unit with 576 wheels, a brilliant team and an innovative arrangement of hydraulic jacks and longitudinal beams to move the superstructure at Gipsy Patch carefully into place.

Osprey Project Manager, Mitchell Smith: “Our approach to installing fixtures on rail infrastructure at ground-level, before moving the asset anywhere really, has set the standard for this kind of project now. We reduce the risks of working at height instantly, and the installation can happen in parallel – there’s no need to factor extra time in to the project plan now.”  The Network Rail installation at Gipsy Lane should last for at least the next 125 years. “It wasn’t just the fact this was one of the heaviest bridge lifts ever done,” says Mitchell, “This portal is ‘local’ for many of our team, so it was rewarding to work on something that will have such a long-term impact in the area.”


Featured Title Photograph:

Gipsy Patch Concrete Portal (from Osprey’s video)

Source Osprey


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