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Thursday, 7 March, 2002, 07:00 GMT
Fresh coat for historic bridge
Forth Bridge and wall
The previous contractor pulled out in February 2000
Painting work on the historic Forth Rail Bridge is set to resume after a two-year break.

Owners Railtrack have agreed a multi-million pound contract to protect the landmark against the elements.

The previous contractor pulled out in February 2000, blaming poor weather conditions suffered by those working on the rail link between Fife and the Lothians.

Forth Rail Bridge
The bridge links Fife and the Lothians
Railtrack decided in 1997 to undertake a four-year project which would cover the structure in a glass-based substance designed to protect the bridge for 25 years.

It was thought this would be better than the traditional paint, which had to be applied to the 112-year-old structure continuously.

However, work ground to a halt when scaffolders working for Aberdeen-based company Rigblast downed tools two years ago complaining of incessant gales, rain, cold and snow.

Only a third of the work had been completed some two years into the 35m four-year contract.

Rigblast then had to remove 4,000 tonnes of scaffolding from the second longest three-cantilever rail bridge in the world.

It's looking very positive for the bridge, which is of crucial importance to the rail industry and is a true Scottish landmark

Railtrack spokeswoman
A Rigblast spokesman said: "The job was a health and safety nightmare.

"Imagine getting scaffolders carrying a board up there on the top of the bridge in high winds."

However, work on the 1.1 mile bridge is now expected to resume within weeks.

Railtrack has refused to say who is being considered for the new contract or how long it will last.

But it has hired construction company Balfour Beatty to draw up plans for the work.

A Railtrack spokeswoman said: "We can't go into the details of the contract because we're still working on the fine details.

"But it's looking very positive for the bridge, which is of crucial importance to the rail industry and is a true Scottish landmark."

See also:

29 Dec 01 | Scotland
MP seeks bridge repair assurances
29 Feb 00 | Scotland
Forth Bridge contract ends
23 Nov 99 | Scotland
40m bridge facelift derailed
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