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The Forth Bridge Edinburgh Project




Network Rail


Infrastructure/ Bridge / Railway


The Forth Bridge spanning the 2,467 metres over the River Forth is not only a symbol of Scotland, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Completed in 1890, it remains the second-longest single cantilever bridge span in the world. 

The bridge is located 9 miles west of Edinburgh and links the Edinburgh-Aberdeen railway line across the Firth of Forth. It is sometimes referred to as the Forth Rail Bridge in order to distinguish it from the nearby Forth Road Bridge.

In 1882, construction of the bridge began, and by 1890 it was opened by the future king Edward VII. 53,000 tonnes of steel were used, along with 6.5 million rivets. The project employed over 4,000 men at the height of construction and was Britain’s first major structure to be made from steel – its French contemporary, the Eiffel Tower, was constructed from wrought iron.

To this day, the bridge is a vital link in the East Coast railway route from Aberdeen to London. It supports 3 million passengers each year, with 200 trains passing over it each day. In 2016, it beat Stirling Castle, Melrose Abbey and the Caledonian Canal in being voted as the greatest man-made wonder in Scotland.



The Forth Bridge features in popular culture, most notably in Ian Banks’s novel 1986 The Bridge. The bridge also appears in a Grand Theft Auto game, San Andreas, produced by the Edinburgh-based developer Rockstar North. One of the questions posed by Alan Turing during his quest to determine artificial intelligence was “Please write me a sonnet on the subject of the Forth Bridge.”


Vital statistics for a marvel of Victorian engineering

  • The highest point of the Forth Bridge stands 110 metres above high water and 137 metres above its foundations

  • 53,000 tonnes of steel and 6.5 million rivets were used to construct the Forth Bridge

  • The Forth Bridge's piers are constructed from 120,000 cubic yards of concrete and masonry, faced with 2 ft thick granite

  • 200 trains use the bridge every day, carrying 3 million passengers each year

  • The total painted area of the Forth Bridge is 230,000 sq metres, requiring 240,000 litres of paint

  • There are 1,040 lights installed on the Forth Bridge, using approximately 35-40,000 metres of cable

  • 57 lives were lost during the construction of the Forth Bridge

  • At the height of its construction, more than 4,000 men were employed

  • The construction of the bridge resulted in an unbroken East Coast railway route from London to Aberdeen.


The Forth Road Bridge has approximately 10km of under deck walkways, which engineering, maintenance and inspection teams use on a daily basis to carry out inspections and maintenance. These walkways were installed in the early 1980s and were in sore need of refurbishment.

Following the successful completion of Phase 1, which was undertaken earlier in 2017, Phase 2 were undertaken to replace components that have reached the end of their service life and in order to increase the system's load carrying capacity. In order to reduce the environmental impact of the project, the existing steelwork is being “upcycled” so that it can be reused and last for years to come.


Kite was proud to be part of this project by supplying the project with GRP Moulded Grating to replace the long steel panels of the walkways. These panels were customised and fitted based on our client's requirements . This product secured safe walkways for technicians and engineers to run their daily checks on an anti-slip surface, with superior corrosion resistance compared to traditional galvanised steel grating.

The best advantage acquired by implementing GRP Moulded Grating plates is the huge reduction in weight to the bridge , as GRP is up to 75% lighter than steel. 


Kite also provided Technical Support by ensuring the delivery of standard GRP grating to all parts of the site including the specially designed hanging scaffolds which are suspended from the underside of the bridge deck.

Based on results noted during Phase 1, it is anticipated that 97% of the existing steelwork will be reused during the works - significantly reducing the cost and environmental impact of the project. 


Call Kite's team on 0131 333 4413 to discover how we can help with your next project. Alternatively, submit your email address and we will get in touch shortly.

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