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Pressure for urgent swing-bridge repairs

PUBLISHED: 19:12 04 June 2010 | UPDATED: 17:35 06 July 2010

THE Broads Authority is urging Network Rail to press ahead with repairs on the 100-year-old Somerleyton swing-bridge.

Members of the Authority warned earlier this month that the recent failure of the bridge - coupled with the long-term breakdown of the rail bridge at Trowse near Norwich - could have a disastrous impact on the tourism industry.

THE Broads Authority is urging Network Rail to press ahead with repairs on the 100-year-old Somerleyton swing-bridge.

Members of the Authority warned earlier this month that the recent failure of the bridge - coupled with the long-term breakdown of the rail bridge at Trowse near Norwich - could have a disastrous impact on the tourism industry.

At Somerleyton, exploratory work over the weekend on May 21-22 found that the bridge's pivot mechanism was damaged and unable to open, meaning boats with fixed masts and large motor boats are unable to pass through.

The design of the century-old bridge means a replacement part has to be custom made.

Network Rail engineers are also continuing to work on Trowse bridge on the river Yare, which has been unable to be opened mechanically since the computer-controlled lifting system failed following a power surge in June 2008. The bridge can currently only be opened manually at night, between 1.30am and 4am, with a week's notice, as it takes two hours to operate with a full crew.

Trudi Wakelin, director of waterways for the Broads Authority, said: “We are in contact with Network Rail on a daily basis regarding the state of all the swing bridges on the Broads.

“We are pushing hard for a legal agreement between the Broads Authority and Network Rail whereby Network Rail would give an undertaking to complete the works to an agreed timetable.”

Andrew Munden, Network Rail route director for Network Rail Anglia, said: “Network Rail appreciates the importance of these bridges, both to the safe and efficient operation of the railway and to those who regularly use the waterways for work and pleasure.

“We have worked closely with the Broads Authority to keep them up to speed on the situation at Trowse and Somerleyton and both organisations have benefited from a newly agreed protocol, ensuring that information is shared more effectively.”

In recognition of the disruption caused to boat users, Network Rail has agreed to fund a mooring pontoon upstream of Somerleyton bridge where yachts can lower their masts safely and which would also provide a lunch stop for boaters out for the day.

The Broads Authority and Network Rail will meet again on Tuesday for an update on the situation at both bridges.

For information on swing bridge repairs call the Network Rail helpline on 08457 114141.


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