Three swing bridges in Norfolk are set to undergo refurbishment by Network Rail to keep disruption low and services running.
The bridge components at Somerleyton, Reedham and Oulton Broad haven’t been replaced in more than 100 years, but have been repaired frequently, costing over £100,000 a year to maintain.
The work will start in early 2022 and will see internal upgrades made as part of a £5.5 million programme.
Engineers will replace the winch system, hydraulic jacks, and pipework, as well as new lighting and new power systems to make the bridges easier to maintain for the next 25 years, saving around £7.5m in future costs.
Once the work has been completed, the three bridges will be able to operate throughout the year, giving traffic on the river access to the ports and marinas, benefiting the local economy.
Survey work has already been completed to prepare for the work taking place, this would usually need several engineers on foot, with the railway closed over a number of days, but Network Rail has sped the process up using drones, allowing engineers to complete the surveys in a number of hours, with the railway still operating as normal.
Work will start on the bridges at Reedham and Somerleyton in February 2022 with rail replacement buses in operation.
Ellie Burrows, Network Rail’s route director for Anglia, said: “These bridges are an important part of our railway heritage and also an important part of keeping both rail and boat traffic moving. Renewing the components will reduce the risk of mechanical problems and help keep services running safely, smoothly and reliably for our passengers, as well as maintaining access to the ports and marinas.
“The use of drones to complete survey work is a great example of how we’re innovating to keep the railway running with minimised risk to our staff, minimised disruption for passengers and at reduced cost for taxpayers.”
Jamie Burles, Greater Anglia managing director, said: “This work will make our Norwich and Ipswich to Lowestoft lines even more reliable, which I know our customers will welcome. While the work is going on we will make sure customers can still complete their journeys with a rail replacement bus service.”
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