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Broads Authority in talks with Network Rail over swing bridges

PUBLISHED: 06:40 23 February 2018

The swing bridge at Reedham. Picture: MIKE PAGE

The swing bridge at Reedham. Picture: MIKE PAGE

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The Broads Authority is in talks with Network Rail to ease passage for larger boats using a pair of century old swing bridges.

Somerleyton Bridge. Picture: Denise Bradley Somerleyton Bridge. Picture: Denise Bradley

The bridges at Reedham on the River Yare and Somerleyton on the River Waveney have been swinging open for fixed-mast river craft since 1905. However, both require regular maintenance to keep them in full working order and are coming to the end of their useful life.

Broads Authority chief executive John Packman said they had worked with Network Rail for a number of years regarding the bridges.

He said: “They expand on very hot days in the summer to the point that they cannot be opened.

“This inevitably is a considerable problem for our private owners of larger boats that cannot fit underneath.”

Boats head through the open Reedham Bridge as work is carried out. Picture: Denise Bradley Boats head through the open Reedham Bridge as work is carried out. Picture: Denise Bradley

He said a third swing bridge at Trowse, although a much newer bridge, had been plagued with technical problems and had limited ability to open because of increased rail traffic.

“Through the combined actions of one of our navigation committee members, Simon Sparrow, and a letter from our Solicitor, David Harris, we have made Network Rail aware of their statutory responsibilities.”

He said Network Rail had carried out a successful opening of Trowse Bridge in early January.

“This identified £100,000 worth of improvements needed. These have been given a ‘priority one’ label and will be delivered in 2018/19.”

THE RAILWAY SWING BRIDGE AT SOMERLEYTON. THE RAILWAY SWING BRIDGE AT SOMERLEYTON.

Mr Packman said Network Rail had commissioned strategies for Somerleyton and Reedham swing bridges, which were completed in March 2014 and more recently an analysis of the five options for their replacement or refurbishment.

“In terms of Somerleyton Bridge, Network Rail has built up a good knowledge of when this bridge suffers problems.

“They can work out a temperature range and a rough timing in the afternoon that when certain conditions are met the bridge will not open.”

Members of the Broads Authority navigation committee yesterday supported a suggestion that Network Rail provide the authority with detailed information that can be shared with boaters.

Broads Authority Chief Executive John Packman. Picture Andrew Stone Broads Authority Chief Executive John Packman. Picture Andrew Stone

Mr Packman said the information could help boaters using these bridges plan their trips accordingly.

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