The 1830 built Howdon Viaduct which has been used by the Tyne and Wear Metro for over 40 years has recently been undergoing in-depth inspections to check on its condition ahead of a plan of action for the complete track renewal across the 320 metre structure.
Specially trained engineers from SPAN Engineering used harnesses and ropes to scale the 80 feet structure to conduct the inspection which was commissioned as part of the preparations to renew the track running across the viaduct which spans the Willington Gut, linking east Newcastle with North Tyneside.
Sarah McManus, Head of Renewals at Nexus, commented: “Howdon viaduct is one of the most important and iconic structures on the Metro network, carrying scores of Metro trains each and every day. We’ve been conducting these at height inspections so that we can explore how we’re going to renew the tracks that run across the viaduct over the next few years, which will represent a major investment in Metro infrastructure.
“The work has involved specially trained civil engineers climbing up on to the super structure to assess the condition of the wrought iron. This will be fed into a detailed planning process as we look at the best options for a track replacement project.
“It’s the type of work that requires the inspectors to have a real head for heights. The team that we brought in did an amazing job despite working in some terrible weather conditions. They have experience of working on railway bridges all over the country, most notably the iconic Forth Bridge in Scotland.”