Oulton Broad Swing Bridge

Swing bridge maintenance works to preserve historic infrastructures

Network Rail engineers will be working on vital upgrades to electrical and mechanical systems inside Reedham and Somerleyton swing bridges, with works commencing from Saturday 22 October to Sunday 30 October.

These historic and iconic bridges are utilised to carry trains and general rolling stock over waterways, whilst having the ability to swing open, allowing boats to pass through. After over 100 years of service to the local areas, the internal parts and mechanisms of the infrastructures have become unreliable, requiring parts to be replaced and restored. The ambition of this project is to ensure the resilience and reliability of bridges, making them less likely to develop future faults, which will, in turn, reduce the overall future maintenance costs.

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.”

During a project of this size there are often safety concerns for passengers along the route and the staffing teams conducting the works. To ensure these works are carried out safely for all parties, a section of the railway will need to be closed, meaning that buses will replace trains between Norwich and Lowestoft on nine consecutive days between Saturday 22 October to Sunday 30 October.

The opening days of the project (22nd and 23rd October) will see additional works on Oulton Broad swing bridge, leading to further bus replacements between Halesworth and Lowestoft on this weekend only.

Jamie Burles, Greater Anglia managing director, said:

“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. While the work is going on we will make sure customers can still complete their journeys with a rail replacement bus service.”

River access for vessels will be limited while the work takes place but there will be short windows of opportunity to open the bridges during the closures. These are being communicated by the Broads Authority directly to boat users.

These upgrades, once completed, will have transformative value for Greater Anglia’s train passengers and boat users get to their destinations reliably for years to come, whilst ensuring the historic infrastructure can be championed and integrated into modern transport

Further work on the three swing bridges will take place in spring 2023, with the dates of closures to be advised.

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