Insight into scaffolding on the Forth Rail Bridge


On 21st January 1890, two trains first crossed the Forth Rail Bridge, travelling across two and a half thousand metres of track suspended nearly fifty metres above the Firth of Forth. This feat of engineering remains an iconic structure and today requires equal feats of ingenuity to maintain. The exposed location, the extraordinary structure, 190 train movements per day and the busy shipping lane below, make this famous bridge one of the ultimate access challenges.


Scaffolding the bridge starts by reversing the conventional ‘ground-up’ approach. The evident complexity of the bridge, built with more curves than angles, means that every scaffolding member has to be individually designed, fabricated and suspended in position high above the Forth. Access platforms then have to be encapsulated in plastic sheeting, to prevent old lead paint being shot-blasted into the environment, and to protect the new, glass flake epoxy paint from the weather while it dries.

The bridge is well over a hundred years old, but it takes 21st century technology and expertise to keep it in safe use, making Harsco Infrastructure’s experience on live industrial maintenance invaluable.

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