Global Rail Services Limited (GRSL) are pleased to confirm that the first passengers were able to use the newly constructed Linkspan Bridge on 3rd July 2020, just 4 weeks after it was taken out of commission, following the successful completion of their contract for the complex replacement of the Berth 1 Linkspan upper deck transition ramp for Irish Rail. Although the works are contracted by Irish Rail, because the location was inside Rosslare Harbour, GRSL were working under the daily jurisdiction of Rosslare Europort.
The works to the upper tier, which were conducted to a demanding berthing schedule, where the lower tier had to remain operational, to enable ferries to operate normally. Activities were planned around a live working International Ship and Port Facility (ISPS), and specifically comprised the removal of the existing and installation of a new transition ramp at Berth 1, on the Upper Tiered Linkspan, to accommodate the new WB Yeats Ferry.
GRSL’s contract, which commenced on 4th June 2020, provided for the following civil works:
- Prefabrication and delivery of the new ramp, torsion beam, fingers and handrails;
- The removal of existing transitional ramp, torsion beam, hydraulic arms, and mid bearings;
- Installation of the new ramp on site;
- Commissioning and testing of the new transitional ramp;
Following completion of this contract, GRSL have increased the previous linkspan by 1.6m and in doing so, installed nearly 40 tonnes of heavy structural steel section to an Execution Level of 3 (EXC3) standard.
During the project a number of challenges were encountered and expertly met by GRSL’s team of structural, civil and project managers, whilst still maintaining program, these included:
- The structural steel was required to be at an Execution Level of 3 (bridge standard), which required ultrasonic testing of the welds and third-party inspections;
- Conducting the works in a restricted access facility and by its very nature a live port and marine environment;
- Delivering a project which was effectively a moving bridge, that actually connects to the back of a boat when moored and with vehicles traversing between;
- The work was at the water’s edge;
- Project and site requirements for both the client (Irish Rail) and at the harbour for Rosslare Europort;
- Due to Covid-19, structural steel deliveries were challenging, which meant GRSL had to send lorries to the UK to collect the steel;
- All connections and bolts on the existing bridge were welded, so the elements had to be cut out as they could not be unbolted;
- On removal of the existing torsion beam, the bearings were unserviceable on first inspection and had to be replaced at short notice;
- The as-built drawings were incorrect, which meant adaptations to design after site investigations, internal strengthening of the torsion beam, alternate lifting points and alterations to the actuator arms.
GRSL Contracts Manager Paul Connell, was closely involved and added:
“This complex, fast-track project has been successfully completed within the allocated shut down. We have worked closely with our sub-contractor JA Engineering, Irish Rail & Rosslare Harbour to deliver these works.
“Despite the unforeseen challenges faced, particularly in the current climate, the works have been completed to the delight of the customer – Irish Rail – and the end user Rosslare Europort. I take my hat off to all those involved in successfully executing a very bespoke project.”