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Work set to start on Strathspey steam railway line bridge

By SPP Reporter

The crane that will be used in the operation (Hendy Pollock)
The crane that will be used in the operation (Hendy Pollock)

A major step in the return of steam engines to Grantown is set to start soon as part of a project costing more than £30,000.

A steel bridge structure which used to cross Merry Street in Motherwell and was donated by Network Rail in 2008 will be installed over the River Dulnain.

A massive rail-borne Kirow 1200 crane, operated by Colas Rail, is coming north to lift the bridge beams into position in mid-February.

Members of 39 Engineer Regiment, based at Kinloss Barracks, will assist with later bridge works.

Once in place, Strathspey Steam Railway staff and volunteers will make plans to lay track across the bridge and over the Muckrach Estate lands towards the planned tunnel under a re-aligned A95. Grantown will then be just one mile away.

Strathspey Railway Charitable Trust chairman David Fraser said: "The sight of the bridge going in will resoundingly confirm that the railway is on its way back to Grantown with just one more big hurdle, the A95, and we hope that Transport Scotland can make the tunnel and road re-alignment happen soon.

"Our local politicians are united in support for this project to succeed, and we are indebted to a number of companies, both local and national, who have been able to help at reduced or no cost at all."

Grantown-based McKellar Engineering has done much work free of charge to prepare the steel components of the bridge prior to installation. These components will shortly be moved to the current railhead near the bridge abutments.

A crane will load these at Boat of Garten on to rail bogies bound for the railhead in readiness for the "big lift" into place by the 120-tonne crane. Each of the main bridge beams which will be used to crossed the 27 metre span weighs in at 14½ tonnes.

Trust engineering member Mike Tough commented: "Our staff and volunteers have some preparation to do to facilitate the operation of the Kirow 1200 crane and placement of the main beams.

"But it will be such an encouraging sight to see the bridge going in, and thereafter we’ll get some more track in over the bridge and onward to Grantown."

Assistance has also been given by the Cairngorms National Park Authority, who have paid for the preparation and painting of bridge components by Hendersons of Rothes, and BSW Timber of Boat of Garten has supplied timber decking.

The trust will re-launch its "Rails to Grantown" fund-raising drive to help fund the A95 tunnel and a new Grantown station.

Trust community representative Basil Dunlop said: "I am really excited about this. The day we get the trains back to Grantown will be one which is great news for the town.

"People and businesses here will clearly see that we intend to see this happen. We continue to need financial support, so go to our Rails to Grantown website to find out how to donate."

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