Normally, the Grade II listed railway bridge would swing to allow waterway traffic pass through. But with thermometers set to hit 30°C this week, Network Rail says it cannot risk tracks getting out of line.
Rails in direct sunshine can be as much as 20°C hotter than air temperature and, because rails are made from steel, they expand as they get hotter. If this happens on the bridge, it means that the rails cannot line back up properly, meaning the bridge cannot close again if it has already opened to waterway traffic. This would disrupt rail services on the route between York, Selby and Hull.
Network Rail spent £14m on the bridge in 2014 to make it more reliable – track upgrades, repairing steel work and improvements to the hydraulics and were the most significant improvements made to the bridge since its construction.
Chris Gee, head of operations for Network Rail’s North and East Route, said: “This has been a difficult decision and not one which we take lightly as we know this is a much loved and used waterway. It’s really important that we keep those who need to travel by train moving reliably and keeping this bridge in the railway position is one proactive measure we can take to do this.”