The railways face few harsher environments than exposure to all that the sea can provide. Salt water, strong winds and high tides all conspire to cause problems and few places evince this more than the crossing of the River Tay on the approaches to Dundee. The Tay Bridge remains the longest railway bridge in the United Kingdom and a major challenge to Network Rail’s engineers. For almost two decades engineers have been undertaking a major £17 million project to refurbish the Grade A listed structure. Due to the complexity of the work, the project was completed in a number of phases with work being completed in August 2017. The restoration of this impressive structure was rewarded when the team behind the work was presented the Sir William McAlpine Award for the best entry in the 2018 National Railway Heritage Awards announced in December 2018 at Merchant Taylors’ Hall in London. On 21 May 2019 the plaque awarded at the ceremony was officially unveiled in Dundee by Lady Judy McAlpine in memory of her late husband, The Hon Sir William McAlpine Bt in whose name the award was dedicated.

Tay Bridge Triumph
With the city of Dundee in the background across the river, a northbound services heads towards the high girders on the newly restored Tay Bridge. To the right can be seen the foundation to the ill-fated viaduct designed by Thomas Bouch, the failure of which led to the 1879 disaster.