Downwell Rail Project Aborted

Following months of planning and preparations the project had to be aborted due to high winds.

Downwell Rail is no match for British winter

Downwell had been awarded a Christmas rail project by Osborne. The project was to dismantle a railway bridge in a small Bedfordshire town called Biggleswade.

Months of planning and designing the scheme saw both Downwell and Osborne’s technical teams working flat out leading up to the Christmas break to ensure that the method was finalised and passed off by Network Rail. Certain elements of enabling works were able to be completed in the weeks before the possession. This work included services diversions, road surfaces removal, saw cutting through 75% depth and exposing the fixings.

The bridge deck was made up of concrete planks spanning from east west across 3 brick buttresses. The method was to saw cut along the joins of the planks then removing the fixings to free the plank. There were 2 mobile cranes positioned either side of the bridge tasked with lifting out the planks once they were freed and loading them onto a flat bed lorry for processing and recycling off site.

Everyone assigned to the project arrived to site on Christmas Eve night to start work on the first shift. The power lines were dropped along the track, the scaffold deck was erected, the brick parapets were demolished, the final 25% of saw cutting was completed on the first planks to be lifted and the bolts were cut holding them down. The crane began to lift out the planks in the agreed sequence.

There had been concerns about the strong winds forecast for that night but the works were given the green light to proceed. However several hours into the project the wind speed got too high and for safety reasons the cranes were stopped from working. It was unlikely that the wind would die down so the project was aborted and the clear up began.

The lines were given the all clear to reopen again on Boxing Day evening in time for the trains to start running again.

The project is to be rescheduled for a future possession and is likely to be completed in February.

Downwell Home Page

" A big thank you to all of the planning team and the workforce for sacrificing their time in the build up and during the possession for this specialist project."

100 years of demolition experience


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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Statement - Wednesday 25th March

The Prime Minister’s announcement on Monday evening signalled the introduction of more stringent restrictions on us all and has specifically indicated that members of the public should only leave their home for very limited purposes. The message indicates that we should travel to and from work, only where this is absolutely necessary.

The management of the Downwell Group of companies which includes: Downwell Demolition, Inner City Environmental and Inner City Scaffolding has very carefully considered both the meaning and the spirit of the Prime Minister’s statement and whilst there has been some clarification from government subsequently that building sites could continue to operate, we came to the very clear decision yesterday that it was necessary for us, as a responsible contractor, to safely and securely close down our operational sites as soon as reasonably possible. Doing so will assist in maintaining the wellbeing of our customers, employees, sub-contractors, suppliers and the wider communities within which we build.

All sites have been closed down in a safe and secure manner and will remain closed until further notice.

We would like to take this opportunity of thanking all the key workers on the frontline who are continiung working for the good of us all.