Building Material of the Future Helps Protect the Materials of the Past – Dura Composites FRP Solutions Play Pivotal Role in Helping Maximise Lifespan of Historic Brunel Viaduct

By Stuart Burns December 2, 2015

brunel1 Dura Composites market-leading Fibreglass Reinforced Plastic (FRP) solutions are playing a crucial role in helping to maximise the lifespan of the Grade II* listed Moulsford Viaduct in South Oxfordshire.

The original bridge was constructed in 1838 to a design by Isambard Kingdom Brunel for the Great Western Railway and a second bridge followed in 1890.The structure achieved Grade II* listed status following an English Heritage consultation as a result of its importance to the history of Britain’s railways. In June 2014, Network Rail awarded a contract to specialist engineering and construction firm Amco to help maximise the lifespan of the viaduct, and to build a new pedestrian infrastructure to provide access for future maintenance activities.

Previously, access to the viaduct’s chambers for inspection had been via small difficult to reach manholes. To carry out an inspection, (either planned or for an emergency), both tracks on the viaduct had to be blocked which caused significant disruption and required possession of the track.

brunel2Following investigation works, a solution was proposed to enable the whole structure to be examined without any interference to rail traffic above. Purpose built inspection gantries made from lightweight and high-strength FRP were supplied by Dura Composites following a design consultation process with Network Rail’s designer Arup, and were cleverly hidden from view to ensure the aesthetics of the structure were not marred.

Constructed from a combination of Dura Profile, Dura Grating and Dura Ladders, all made from lightweight FRP, the gantries offer significant advantages over traditional materials used for these types of applications such as wood, aluminium or steel. Also featured are Dura Self-Closing Hinges which are fully weatherproof and have a spring assembly to ensure they close fully behind the user, overcoming the problem of human error.

Weighing up to 50% less than the equivalent steel, Dura Profile is a high-performance structural solution which is corrosion-resistant, easy to handle, non-conductive and economic to transport. At Moulsford Viaduct it was used alongside Dura FRP Access Ladders to create the hidden gantries and maximise durability and safety. Dura FRP Ladders can be supplied in any specification up to 6 metres and can be equipped with safety cages and walkthroughs.

brunel3The flooring used for the gantries was market-leading Dura Grating – a non-slip flooring system which is durable, lightweight and chemical and corrosion resistant and which can be easy cut on site using standard power tools and requires no hot works permits.

Speaking about the purpose built Dura Composites inspection gantries and walkways, Shaun Miller, Site Manager at Amco said; “Finding the right solution to the difficult problem of inspecting and maintaining a structure of such national importance was paramount. We selected Dura Composites on the basis of their expertise in the sector and the service level they provide. The solutions for Moulsford Viaduct were fully fabricated by Amco on site, proving how easy they were to work with and ensuring that the job was completed in a timely manner and to a high standard. The Amco team were delighted to win a prestigious Network Rail STAR Award for this project in recognition of commitment to health, safety and environmental risk control”.