Leeds & Liverpool Canal reconstruction

Project Outline

The existing 100 year old rail bridge over the Leeds and Liverpool Canal was identified as being in poor condition and required replacing. Network Rail tasked Murphy with replacing the bridge as part of the CP5 Programme framework.

Key Challenges

Liaising with the Canal and Rivers Trust and Network Rail to coordinate concurrent railway possessions and canal closure to deliver the works was a key requirement - Murphy used a modular pontoon system to work over the canal for abutment repairs and preparation works ahead of the core possession. This provided us with an access system that could be assembled to fit the curvature of the canal and wing walls of the bridge abutments. It also meant the pontoon could easily and quickly be partially disassembled for removal during demolition of the existing bridge, and put back in place quickly for installation of the new bridge during the core possession.

Project Delivery & Innovations

The project involved the use of a 1,000 tonne mobile crane to remove the existing bridge structure and install the new precast concrete cills and steel bridge elements. The bridge was replaced in a 51 hour core possession, with Murphy handing back possession eight hours early, and despite the large numbers of people and deliveries on site 24/7 the core works were completed with no incidents or accidents.

The design of the new structure was future proofed by providing a detachable 'robust kerb' and full width abutment cill units. If, in the future, the railway line is upgraded from single to dual line the structure would require minimal work to install another structure for the second line.

Key Facts

  • New 80 tonne bridge was lifted into place as a single piece using a 1,000 tonne crane
  • Meticulous planning and sequencing of work meant that the canal was re-opened early


Network Rail


Burnley, Lancashire

Completion Date

December 2017



This work was excellently planned and excellently delivered. Well done everyone involved. Replacing this bridge is a 'must do' job that is essential for the continued safe running of the railway. - Chris Atkins Scheme Project Manager, Network Rail

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