Reedham Swing bridge opening, via Network Rail

Rejuvenation works completed on East Anglia swing bridges

The transport monolith Network Rail have completed a key package of reliability and maintenance works on swing bridges in Norfolk and Suffolk.

The iconic swing bridges are vital for the passage of trains over waterways and swing open to let boats through, having been in operation for over 100 years. The age of these rail heritage buildings has meant that the internal parts have become unreliable, requiring Network Rail engineers to embark on regenerative project to replace the faulty parts, ensuring the reliability of the bridges for the coming years, reducing the need for further costly maintenance programmes.

Ellie Burrows, Network Rail’s route director for Anglia, said:

 “These bridges on the Wherry and East Suffolk lines are an important part of our railway heritage and also critical pieces of infrastructure that keep 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 project included:

  • Installation of a beam in the building that houses the swing bridge machinery, strengthening the buildings for a temporary opening to be made in the wall. This opening would allow old and heavy machinery to be moved out and replaced with modern, more reliable equipment
  • Upgrading and replacing the manual winch system, allowing the bridge to be swung open manually by the bridge operator if there are problems with the machinery, keeping trains and boat users moving.
  • Completing a full renewal and upgrade of the electrical system.

These works were conducted over a nine-day period, which saw disruptions for residents seeking to utilise both rail and boats, with their patience being thanked by Network Rail and train operators along the route.

Jamie Burles, Greater Anglia managing director, said:

 “I’d like to thank customers for their patience while this work was carried out. Our new trains have already improved reliability on our Norwich and Ipswich to Lowestoft lines and this work will make it even better, which I know our customers will welcome.”

During this nine-day closure, Network Rail took the opportunity to conduct essential drainage, track and vegetation management works along the Norwich-Lowestoft line.

Dates for future works will be announced in due course and will primarily include a full replacement of the hydraulic and mechanical systems that the bridges use to open and close.

Rob Rogers, Broads Authority Director of Operations, said:

“This much-needed investment by Network Rail into the Broads’ swing bridges is very much welcomed by the Broads Authority and our boating communities.

“It has been a challenging few years for our river users regarding the bridges and we are delighted to hear that work is progressing to allow them to reliably open for river traffic.”

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