Network Rail has successfully moved two new 160 tonne metallic spans into place onto Barmouth Viaduct, reaching a milestone in the restoration of the iconic structure.

The intricate and complex operation to transfer and position the spans following a practice run on a purpose-built mock track means the team is making good progress with the final stage of the £30m refurbishment.

The removal and demolition of the existing metallic elements is almost complete, with the sections being transported off-site using pontoons. The final piece of the swing span has also been successfully removed.

Two gantry hoists lifted into place are appropriately named after Henry Conybeare and Benjamin Piercy who designed the original bridge over the Afon Mawddach. The hoists are being used to lower sections of the old bridge to be taken away for recycling and to raise and install elements of the new structure. Work on the Grade II listed viaduct is being carried out by Network Rail and Alun Griffiths, supported by a number specialist delivery partners.

The final phase of restoration work is going well
The final phase of restoration work is going well (Network Rail)

The railway remains closed between Machynlleth and Pwllheli until Sunday, 3 December to allow the restoration to safely continue, followed by renewal of the track near Barmouth Toll House. Transport for Wales is operating a combination of bus replacements and train services along the Cambrian line. Passengers are advised to check before they travel. The footpath over the viaduct will also remain closed until 3 December so teams are able to have full access while they safely carry out the essential work.

Restoration work started in 2020, purposely split across several years to reduce the impact on rail services, the community and local economy.

Route director for Network Rail Wales & Borders Nick Millington said: “The restoration programme is progressing well despite some very challenging weather conditions including high winds, heavy rainfall and spring tides. Our teams have been working night and day, seven days a week to make sure each stage of the work is completed safely and successfully.

“There is still much more to do before the new spans are fully installed in their final position and the viaduct is ready for the final piece of the jigsaw - the renewal of the 130m of track near the old Barmouth Toll House, on the northern edge of the viaduct. 

“We’d like to thank the local community and our passengers for their patience as we continue this essential work to boost the resilience and reliability of this beautiful stretch of railway line for generations to come. “

A concerned resident fears Transport For Wales’ bus replacement this service will be affected next month when Welsh Water start work on a road in Barmouth, but Transport for Wales said they are looking at how best to deal with the situation.

A spokesperson said: “We’re aware of the work and are in discussions with Welsh Water and the local authority. We’re looking at what changes to the bus service may be needed and we’ll communicate these with customers as soon as possible.

See how the restoration work is going in the video above.

Materials for the viaduct were transported by water
Some of the materials for the viaduct were transported by water (Network Rail)