Structural Designer


Client Name

Network Rail | RSSB




It is estimated that 500 masonry arch bridges in the UK are too low for Network Rail’s electrification programme. A cost-effective solution is required to avoid the demolition of hundreds of overbridges. In 2014, Freyssinet took part in RSSB’s Avoidance of Bridge Reconstruction competition joining forces with masonry arch expert, Bill Harvey, to explore the feasibility of vertically jacking bridge arches. The resulting ElevArch® concept was selected as one of four to advance into phase two of the competition - the full-scale demonstrator. This cutting-edge technique and sustainable solution for jacking rail masonry arch structures avoids unnecessary demolition and reconstruction for electrification schemes throughout the UK.


Judge's comment:

There are about 500 masonry arch bridges in the UK that are too low to allow the electrification of the railway that runs under them. Many of these are attractive, and some are listed structures. Demolition and rebuilding is one way of increasing the headroom, as is lowering of the tracks. Both cost time and money and use a lot of energy in the form of plant and materials.

ElevArch is a brilliant and innovative scheme for raising the original bridge to the required new level. The masonry is cut through at the springing of the arch to separate it from the abutments, and the bridge is then jacked up to provide the necessary clearance. The scheme was developed by Freyssinet, who are experts in the jacking of heavy structures, and Bill Harvey, who is an expert on masonry arches.

This is a highly sustainable solution to the problem of increasing the clearance under masonry bridges. It is also likely to be popular with the public.