Biggest cranes in Europe spotted in Milton Keynes ready for 295-tonne upgrade

60-year-old Bletchley Flyover gets a makeover ahead of Milton Keynes' new East-West rail link

By Kevin Nicholls
Monday, 4th May 2020, 12:52 pm
Updated Monday, 4th May 2020, 12:56 pm

A major facelift for one of the most iconic sights on the rail route from Milton Keynes to London will be ramped up over two Bank Holiday weekends.

Huge sections of the 60-year-old Bletchley Flyover are being lifted out by some of the largest cranes in Europe to build the East West Rail route linking Milton Keynes with Oxford, Bedford and Aylesbury.

The flyover was built in 1959 allowing trains to cross over the West Coast Main Line without disrupting express services.

Huge cranes lift out one of the 37 spans on the Bletchley Flyover last weekend. Photo Network Rail

It looked set for demolition until approval for the East-West route was granted land now forms a cruicial part of the link with plans for two new high-level platforms for smart electric trains serving a reconfigured station.

First, 14 of the flyover’s 37 spans need to be dismantled and rebuilt to modern standards. Weighing in at a hefty 295 tonnes, first to go was ‘Span 17’ which was split into two and removed on April 22..

Eight more sections which cross directly over the West Coast Main Line will follow this month, causing some disruption for key workers who need to travel by train.

Work will continue over the VE Day weekend and the late-May holiday and key workers using London Northwestern Railway services from Milton Keynes to Northampton and London are being urged to check the National Rail Enquiries journey planner.

How the new high-level Bletchley station will look when the new route opens by 2025. Photo East West Rail

Tim Shoveller, managing director for Network Rail’s North West and Central region, said: “This is a major milestone for East West Rail, a new railway which will transform connectivity and journey times across the heart of the country.

"It promises to provide a greener, low carbon transport system which will bring huge benefits to passengers and businesses - driving economic growth and creating opportunities for housing and new jobs.

"We have planned it so as to minimise disruption to freight and those who do need to travel.”