Three bridges in Northamptonshire will be rebuilt by Network Rail as part of a £70 million investment to speed up journey times between London and Sheffield.
The rail network operator today said that, once complete, the new bridges would provide the extra headroom for trains to travel at higher speeds, when the forces involved mean trains tilt to one side as they pass through curved sections of track.
Network Rail would normally provide the additional clearance by lowering the track level under the bridges.
However, rebuilding the bridges will provide the space needed for trains to travel faster as well as room needed for future installation of overhead line equipment as part of the proposed electrification of the line between Bedford and Sheffield.
The work will require the temporary closure of the affected bridges from five weeks up to 14 weeks, and Network Rail is working closely with the Highways Agency, Northamptonshire County Council and Kettering Borough Council to minimise disruption and provide travel advice to those affected.
Access for pedestrians and cyclists will be maintained for the vast majority of the time.
The three bridges affected are Finedon Station Road bridge in Burton Latimer, which will close from June 3-September 3, a bridle road bridge near Rushton, which will close from October 4 until November 13 and Pytchley Road bridge in Kettering, which will close from December 9 until February 14, 2014.
A fourth bridge close to Kettering Venture Park will be demolished as it is no longer in use.
Justin Page, Network Rail acting route managing director, said: “This work will deliver quicker journeys for the ever-growing number of passengers on the Midland Main Line, helping to bring the region’s biggest economies closer together.
“Our longer-term plans to upgrade and electrify the line will transform our diesel railway into one of the most modern in Europe providing more seats, even faster journeys, and cleaner and quieter trains.
“We thank people in advance for their patience and will continue to work closely with Northamptonshire County Council, Kettering Borough Council and the Highways Agency as we continue our plans to build a better railway for the East Midlands.”