Bletchley Flyover
Bletchley Flyover (geograph 5929923).jpg
The flyover from Bletchley railway station on 26 October 2017
Coordinates51°59′32″N 0°44′7″W / 51.99222°N 0.73528°W / 51.99222; -0.73528Coordinates: 51°59′32″N 0°44′7″W / 51.99222°N 0.73528°W / 51.99222; -0.73528
OS grid referenceSP 868 335
CarriesVarsity line
CrossesWest Coast Main Line
LocaleBletchley
OwnerNetwork Rail
Characteristics
Total length605 metres (1,985 ft)
No. of spans37
Rail characteristics
No. of tracks2
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in)
ElectrifiedNo
History
Opened1959 (1959)
Rebuilt2020–2021
Location

The Bletchley Flyover was originally a reinforced concrete railway viaduct that carried the former Varsity line between Oxford and Cambridge over the West Coast Main Line (WCML) at Bletchley railway station in Milton Keynes, England. It was retained but largely unused when the line closed until it was demolished in late 2020 and early 2021. During 2021, the East West Rail Alliance rebuilt the flyover and the route was in use by engineering trains by early 2022.

Construction

The original structure was composed of 37 concrete spans,[1] resting on concrete piers. It is 605 metres (1,985 ft) long.[2] Most of the spans are beam-shaped; two are double-length arches.[citation needed] Electrification pads were provided when the flyover was first built, despite there being no plans to electrify the line.[citation needed]

History

In 1959, the Bletchley Flyover was opened to carry the Varsity line over the West Coast Main Line (WCML) as part of the British Rail Modernisation Plan.[3][4] The plan proposed to develop the Varsity Line as a freight link from the East Coast ports to South Wales, capable of handling up to 2,400 wagons of coal class traffic and empties daily.[5] However, following British Railways deciding not to proceed with the Swanbourne sidings plan, the line saw little use, with most freight traffic taking other routes.[6]

The Varsity line closed to passengers on 1 January 1968; it remained open to goods traffic until October 1993, when the bridge was mothballed.[7][8] The flyover was returned to use in 2006 along with a mile of track west of Bletchley to a loop at the Newton Longville Brickworks landfill site.[9]

2020/2021 rebuild

As part of the East West Rail project that will reopen the Oxford – Cambridge route, work to replace 14 of the spans began in April 2020.[8][10][11] Sections beside and over the WCML were removed in April and May.[12][13] The arches crossing Buckingham Road (on the east side of WCML) started being removed on 5 July 2020.[14] "The final span was lifted out by crane in October and the last of the supporting piers and pillars were removed over the weekend of 9-10 January 2021".[15] At the early May 2021 holiday, 103 concrete girders were lifted into place to provide the bridge deck over the main line.[16]

During summer 2021, a new structure was built for use by East West Rail, in the form of a box tunnel around the WCML;[17] by February 2022, 1.5 km (0.93 mi) of track had been installed over the new flyover, enabling engineering trains to reach the eastern end of the construction site.[18]

The renovation project includes a plan to construct high level platforms for Bletchley station, just after the eastern end of the flyover.[15] These platforms will serve East West Rail (only).

References

  1. ^ "Biggest cranes in Europe spotted in Milton Keynes ready for 295-tonne upgrade". Milton Keynes Citizen. 4 May 2020. Archived from the original on 28 July 2020.
  2. ^ Class 56 special over doomed Bletchley flyover line Rail issue 200 12 May 1993 page 6
  3. ^ The Bletchley Flyover The Railway Magazine issue 691 November 1958 page 737
  4. ^ Biggest cranes in Europe spotted in Milton Keynes ready for 295-tonne upgrade Milton Keynes Citizen 4 May 2020
  5. ^ Klapper, C.F. (1976). London's Lost Railways. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. p. 101. ISBN 0-710083-78-5.
  6. ^ Fiennes, G F (1973). "7. Chief Operating Officer, B.R.". I tried to run a Railway (Revised ed.). London: Ian Allan Publishing. ISBN 9780711004474.
  7. ^ Class 56 special over doomed Bletchley flyover line Rail issue 200 12 May 1993 page 6
  8. ^ a b Bletchley Flyover Project Railways Illustrated July 2020 page 12
  9. ^ Bletchley flyover reconstruction begins Modern Railways issue 861 June 2020 page 18
  10. ^ Britain’s East-West Rail project makes progress International Railway Journal 4 May 2020
  11. ^ Three huge cranes remove flyover at Bletchley Rail Engineer 6 July 2020
  12. ^ Kevin Nicholls (4 May 2020). "Biggest cranes in Europe spotted in Milton Keynes ready for 295-tonne upgrade [as] 60-year-old Bletchley Flyover gets a makeover ahead of Milton Keynes's new East-West rail link". Milton Keynes Citizen. Retrieved 5 May 2020.
  13. ^ Mark Cuzner (July 2020). "EWR2 Project Newsletter - July 2020". East West Rail Alliance. Retrieved 7 August 2020.
  14. ^ Sally Murrer (2 July 2020). "Three of UK's largest cranes heave out sections of concrete railway flyover in Milton Keynes". Milton Keynes Citizen. Retrieved 26 July 2020.
  15. ^ a b Cuzner, Mark, ed. (January 2021). "EWR2 Project Newsletter – Winter 2020/2021". East West Rail Alliance.
  16. ^ "Bank holiday rail upgrades complete between London and Scotland" (Press release). Network Rail. 4 May 2021.
  17. ^ Cuzner, Mark, ed. (November 2021). "EWR2 Project Newsletter – Autumn 2021". East West Rail Alliance. ("Project Updates")
  18. ^ Cuzner, Mark, ed. (February 2022). "EWR2 Project Newsletter – Winter 21/22". East West Rail Alliance. (Project Progress)
Stations in and around Milton Keynes
Roade
Salcey Forest
Castlethorpe
Olney
towards Bedford
Deanshanger
Old Stratford
Stony Stratford
Newport Pagnell
Wolverton Works
Great Linford
Wolverton
Bradwell
Woburn Sands
Bow Brickhill
Milton Keynes Central
Fenny Stratford
Denbigh Hall
Bletchley TMD
Bletchley
former Varsity Line /
planned East West Rail
to
Oxford
Bletchley Flyover
Leighton Buzzard