Railway engineers have replaced a 143-year old bridge in the North York Moors over the course of the weekend and claim it will improve reliability "for the next 120 years".

Network Rail went to work last weekend (Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 February) to remove a centuries-old bridge on the Esk Valley line to the west of the remote Commondale station and replace it with a brand new concrete bridge deck.

The Northern Echo: The new bridge deck being put in place on the bridge near Commondale station.The new bridge deck being put in place on the bridge near Commondale station. (Image: Network Rail)

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The bridge replacement scheme has also seen 160 metres of new track laid and ballasted.

The Esk Valley line runs 30 miles across the North York Moors from Middlesbrough to Whitby, and is a single track along most of its length. The first section between Whitby and Grosmont opened in 1835, although large parts of the wider local network were closed as part of the infamous Beeching cuts during the last century.

This rural section of line is served by a single track.

Colin Freeburn, Asset Engineer for Network Rail said: “This bridge has reliably served passengers travelling between Whitby and Middlesbrough for the past 143 years, but it’s time for its next chapter.

“Replacing the bridge and the tracks will allow people to enjoy on time, reliable journeys along the picturesque Esk Valley line well into the future and help to maintain this route which is so well-loved by the community.”

The Northern Echo: The new rail in situ on the new bridge at Commondale before the ballast gets tamped.The new rail in situ on the new bridge at Commondale before the ballast gets tamped. (Image: Network Rail)

The new bridge will help to offer more reliable, on time journeys for passengers travelling along the Esk Valley line between Whitby and Middlesbrough for the next 120 years and mean that less maintenance work is needed.

North Yorkshire County Council’s executive member for highways and transportation added: “We are very pleased to see enhancements on the Esk Valley Rail Line and will continue to work with the rail industry and local stakeholders to ensure further improvements are implemented.”


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Rail replacement buses operated along the route while the work took place to continue to serve people along the route of the 17 stations on the Esk Valley line.

Kerry Peters, Regional Director at Northern, who operate passenger services on the line said: “All investment in rail infrastructure that improves the customer experience is very much welcomed. The new bridge at Commondale will serve the local community for many years to come and I’d like to thank passengers for their patience while the work was carried out.”