Damaged railway bridge to be closed to traffic for five years
PUBLISHED: 19:59 08 February 2019 | UPDATED: 19:59 08 February 2019
Norfolk MPs have branded "unacceptable" the decision to close a bridge over the Norwich to Thetford rail line for five years after it was damaged in an accident.
The railway bridge, at Eccles Heath, between Attleborough and Snetterton, was left unsafe after being struck by a road vehicle in December 2017.
Network Rail found there was significant damage to the structure after the accident, which sent debris on the rail line below disrupting services, and has closed it to road traffic.
Motorists now face a diversion taking them over the alternative Bryant’s Bridge for the next five years after Network Rail confirmed work to repair the damaged bridge, near Eccles Road, was unlikely to take place until 2022.
Norfolk MPs Liz Truss and George Freeman and county councillor Steve Askew have urged Network Rail to rethink its timetable and raised safety concerns over the diversion route.
South West Norfolk MP Liz Truss said: “It is not acceptable for a damaged bridge to be closed for over five years before any work takes place – but this is what Network Rail is proposing by stating repairs will commence in 2022.
“The county council has already said that the diversion route is not suitable and I therefore would question this ongoing closure.”
George Freeman, Mid-Norfolk MP, said: “It’s completely unacceptable for Network Rail to decide not to repair a bridge and require local road users to use a diversion for five years, which the county council as highways authority has said is unsafe.”
County councillor Steve Askew added: “The diversion route is very hazardous due to a blind junction on Bryant’s Bridge which in turn is encountering numerous scrapes. This is a very busy road which services the Snetterton Heath Employment Area and access to the A11.”
A Network Rail spokesperson said: “Due to the damage that was caused, we are proposing a full rebuild of the bridge to comply with modern safety standards.
“Replacing a structure of this scale over an operational railway requires a lot of planning and preparation. We have programmed an initial start date for the works to begin in 2022, however, we are continuing to hold discussions with local stakeholders and the local authority on whether this work could be brought forward.”