Highways staff in Essex have saved the day after a broken bridge threatened to derail a Thomas the Tank Engine event at Colne Valley Railway.
Thomas was due to appear at the historic railway this weekend, but structural issues on Wash Farm Bridge – a Victorian structure on the A1017 leading to the railway – had meant the much-loved locomotive would be unable to be dropped off by road to the event in time.
Highways engineers worked with German specialists, Reline Europe, and British company, I-Line, to create an innovative fix which was installed last week.
Thomas arrived on the back of a lorry this Monday from his home at the East Anglian Railway Museum giving him enough time to rest up ahead of a hectic schedule over the next two weekends.
Paul Lemon, Chairman of Colne Valley Railway, said: “We are extremely pleased that Essex County Council Highways have responded quickly to the issues at Wash Farm.
“Without completion of this work, Thomas the Tank Engine would have been unable to visit us this weekend
“He is also here next weekend (1 and 2 October) with Daisy, Mavis, Troublesome trucks, Trevor the traction engine and, of course, the Fat Controller who will be making sure they all behave.”
The ‘Day out with Thomas’ event will take place as scheduled from 9.30am each day this weekend (24 and 25 September) and next weekend (1 and 2 October) with tickets available on the day.
Highways staff used a hi-tech solution to fix the bridge in such a short space of time with minimal disruption to traffic using it.
A unique liner was placed under the bridge arch which was then set using specialist ultraviolet (UV) light.
This was the world’s thickest UV light-cured liner ever used on a bridge repair.
This innovative engineering solution is expected to ensure the bridge lasts for the next 100 years.
Councillor Eddie Johnson, Essex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport said: “This is truly innovative engineering and a great co-operative achievement by the manufacturer, the contractor and our Highways staff. School buses and all the other traffic on this main road have seen almost no disruption, and at a comparatively small cost to taxpayer.
“I am delighted Essex families will be able to enjoy a train ride on Thomas this weekend, but I am just as delighted that the travelling public will be able to continue to use this busy route unobstructed for years to come.
“This has been a great demonstration of co-operative working from all involved and I would particularly like to thank the local land owners for allowing the crews to use their land to access the bridge.”
Two-way traffic management had been in place on the route, but the road has now reopened fully thanks to this new innovative design.