Belfast Telegraph

Forth Bridge painting job nears end

The painting of the Forth Rail Bridge - a job famous for never being finished - is finally to come to an end.

Contractors are scheduled to finish applying a new long-lasting paint to the structure ahead of schedule on December 9.

Network Rail, who manage the bridge which crosses the Forth Estuary between North and South Queensferry, said it will not need to be painted again for about 25 years, bringing an end to the task in which teams of workers used to have to start repainting as soon as they finish the last coat.

The new paint used to coat the structure is a specialist glass flake epoxy paint, similar to that used in the offshore oil industry and designed to last 25 years.

Old layers of paint applied over the past 120 years are removed using an abrasive blasting technique and steelwork requiring maintenance is repaired before the new paint is applied in three protective layers.

The refurbishment of the famous crossing has taken 10 years and an investment of around £130 million.

David Simpson, Network Rail Scotland's route managing director, said: "Over the last decade, the bridge has been restored to its original condition and its new paint will preserve the steelworks for decades to come. Now, with scaffolding being removed and the final sections of painting being completed, we're confident that job will be finished before Christmas."

The 8,300ft bridge, with its three enormous red-coloured diamond-shaped spans, was completed in 1890.

Engineering firm Balfour Beatty has been restoring the structure since 2002, blasting the 53,000 tons of steelwork back to bare metal before applying the tough coating.

Marshall Scott, managing director of Balfour Beatty regional civil engineering, said: "The now fully-restored Forth Bridge will continue to operate for many decades to come and it will provide the world-renowned image that Scotland can be rightfully proud of."

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