Tay Rail Bridge bosses have two different kinds of sleeper on their minds as engineers revamp the 3km long track.
Network Rail engineers have begun replacing the Category A listed crossing’s ageing 1,200 railway sleepers sparking complaints from Wormit residents, on the Fife side of the bridge, over the noise keeping them from a good night’s rest.
The £500,000 project, which ends in September, will extend the life of the track by replacing around one in three of the sleepers, parts of which date back to the 1960s.
A spokesman for Network Rail said: “All of the work takes place over night in order to minimise disruption for passengers.
“While there are fewer services operating at the moment, these are crucial for key workers and for the operation of freight services.
“We are aware that noise from works is inconvenient for those that live closest to the railway, particularly at night, but these works can only be done when trains are not running.”
He said the engineering team plan to schedule the noisiest tasks at the beginning of shifts to reduce disruption.
“And while some activities are unavoidably noisy, these are planned and delivered as efficiently as possible,” he added.
The existing timber sleepers are at the end of their natural life having been open to the elements and salty air in the exposed coastal location. Workers will also renew and repack ballast below the sleepers.
Fife councillor Jonny Tepp, Liberal Democrat, said: “Network Rail have advised me in the past that they have to carry out maintenance at night. Nevertheless, I expect them to keep residents informed. This has not always happened in the past. If you know that some noise is likely it is easier to deal with in the small hours.
“My understanding is that Network Rail are required to carry out such work at night in order to minimise disruption to the operation of the railways. I hope that it will be undertaken in such a way as to minimise disruption to residents too.”
Work on the track follows the £75m restoration of the bridge’s metalwork completed in 2017.
Grant Ritchie, delivery manager for the re-sleepering project, said his team work every night to keep the railway open and running efficiently for key workers and essential journeys.
He said: “Any project on an historic and iconic structure like the Tay Bridge is always a pleasure but it presents its own problems due to its unique design and location.
“Being open to the elements over the Firth of Tay is unpredictable in itself even when the work is during the summer months.
“Projects like this will benefit even more passengers when lockdown is lifted and we begin to move towards a new kind of normal.”