UK bridge over Northampton Loop carries village bypass

Overhead view of the new raod bridge at Roade, spanning a deep cutting of the West Coast Main Line Northampton Loop, in lush green countryside
Overhead view of the new raod bridge at Roade, spanning a deep cutting of the West Coast Main Line Northampton Loop Image by SEGRO Logistics

Construction of the SEGRO Logistics Park Northampton rail freight terminal may have taken the headlines, but for the people of Roade village, it’s a road that’s eagerly awaited. A new road bridge over the West Coast Main Line is the project’s signature piece of civil engineering and is nearing completion. The bridge, which spans a deep railway cutting, is the most challenging part of the 2.5km bypass, which will take logistics traffic away from the picturesque Northamptonshire village. The project showcases the commitment of Winvic, the contractors, and SEGRO in engaging with and benefiting the local community.

The Roade bypass, scheduled to be open to traffic in August, and to be completed by 2024, will utilise the new bridge spanning the Northampton Loop on the West Coast Main Line. The single-span bridge, constructed using 48-meter steel beams, weighing in at 264 tonnes, flies over the railway below and will provide a much-needed highway as well as a highway over the railway.

A series of weekend possessions were required to install the bridge and to stabilise the earthworks on the century-and-a-half-old railway cutting. Further possessions will be required to connect the rail freight terminal to the main line while works continue within the logistics park to construct an extensive layout that will eventually provide a stand-alone rail freight terminal, an aggregates terminal, and future provision of an express logistics siding.

Bridge to traverse loop line

The construction of a road link may not often find a platform in this forum, but the construction of this road, for the benefit of the residents of Roade, has significance for rail too. Northampton was left out in the cold by the original alignment of the West Coast Main Line. Having Europe’s busiest mixed traffic railway cut through their estates didn’t appeal to the nineteenth-century aristocratic land owners. However, seeing all that mixed traffic bypass their town soon changed their minds, and the Northampton Loop was soon commissioned. Now, only 150 years later, the town is getting the rail freight terminal those recalcitrant aristocrats declined. As a happy unintended consequence, Roade, a village hardly changed over the intervening decades, will get a very up-to-date bypass highway, which will carry all the road-based intermodal traffic away from its period-perfect streets.

SEGRO’s rail freight terminal and the logistics park play a crucial role in sustainable economic development, low-carbon logistics, both of which are deemed critical to the modernisation of the British economy. Winvic, the leading construction company responsible for the delivering the project, has already completed eleven net-zero industrial projects and is currently delivering an additional eight projects, including one recently constructed warehouse at the hugely successful SEGRO Logistics Park East Midlands Gateway rail freight terminal, managed by Maritime.

Network Rail working on connection

The warehouses at SEGRO Logistics Park Northampton, are expected to generate a significant portion of traffic for the rail terminal. They represent an example of Winvic’s and SEGRO’s low-carbon and net-zero aspirations, and the rail freight terminal is also proactively contributing to those objectives. All embankments within the logistics park, including the head shunt, have used earth moved from elsewhere on the undulating construction site, thereby eliminating landfill moves. Winvic say the terminal and logistics park already falls within the UK Green Building Council definition of net-zero, and is in the upper percentile for reduction in carbon emissions.

Bridge deck under construction showing main steel span bridging over railway in deep cutting below
Bridge deck under construction showing main steel span bridging over the railway below

The integration of the logistics park with the rail network is still to be completed. Network Rail are working on the connection which will require further blockades of the Northampton Loop. Meanwhile Winvic is installing a 4.5km track layout to the terminal. Winvic aims to jointly commission the new line in the second quarter of 2024. By then, the Roade Road Bridge – as absolutely no one is calling it – will be carrying traffic over it, and passing trains under it, and it will be more than just the more enlightened descendants of those reluctant aristocrats that will benefit from the belated coming of the railways.

Author: Simon Walton

Simon Walton is RailFreight's UK correspondent.

Add your comment

characters remaining.

Log in through one of the following social media partners to comment.