Tuesday 12 Oct 2010


Region & Route:
| Eastern: Anglia
| Eastern

A pair of century-old railway swing bridges on the Norfolk Broads are set for a much-needed revamp this month as Network Rail engineers carry out a £1.6m programme of repairs on the historic structures.

The bridges at Reedham and Somerleyton, which have been swinging open for fixed-mast river craft since 1905, require regular maintenance to keep them in full working order. Despite the best efforts of engineers, Somerleyton is currently only able to swing on a limited number of occasions each week owing to mechanical problems.

From Monday 18th October to Friday 5th November, Network Rail engineers will carry out a major programme of work at Somerleyton which will see the central swing bearing replaced and the wheels which support the bridge as it swings renewed. In addition thorough corrosion surveys will be carried out at both Somerleyton and Reedham bridges to assess the need for future repairs and refurbishment.

Andrew Munden, Network Rail route director for Anglia, said: “Running a twenty-first century railway on Edwardian infrastructure is a challenge but it’s a challenge we are committed to meeting.

“Working closely with the Broads Authority, we’ve been mindful of the need to balance the requirements of boat users and rail passengers in operating and maintaining the swing bridges on the Broads. Although the timing is not ideal for some boat users, I hope they will understand that this work needs to be carried out over the half-term week when the railway is at its quietest.

“I’d like to thank both rail and boat users in advance for their patience while our engineers carry out this important work. We’re hopeful that Somerleyton swing bridge will be returned to full working order in early November.”

To allow engineers to work as quickly and as safely as possible, the line between Reedham and Lowestoft will be closed to trains from Saturday 23rd to Sunday 31st October, with alterations to services between Norwich and Lowestoft/Great Yarmouth. Norwich to Lowestoft services will be replaced by buses though some trains will run between Norwich and Reedham before being diverted to Great Yarmouth. Buses will run between Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft.

Notes to editors

1. For full details of changes to train services go to www.nationalexpresseastanglia.com.

2. Somerleyton swing bridge timings and restrictions:

Monday 18th October to Friday 22nd October, preparatory work in progress. Bridge open for passage underneath at all times, swings limited to:
    Monday 18th October, 1530 to 1540
    Friday 22nd October, 1530 to1540

Saturday 23rd October to Friday 5th November 2000 hours, bridge will not swing. Vessels may pass underneath but only during following periods: 

    Saturday 23rd to Saturday 30th October
    Midnight to 0900
    1200 to 1300
    1700 to 1800
    2000 to midnight
    (Note: For periods 0900-1200, 1300-1700, 1800-2000 bridge closed to all traffic.)

    Sunday 31st October to Friday 5th November, 2000 hours
    Midnight to 0900
    1200 to 1300 
    1600 to 1700 (Note: Change due to end of British Summer Time)
    2000 until further notice
    (Note: For periods 0900-1200, 1300-1700, 1800-2000 bridge closed to all traffic.)

Width restrictions of approximately 5.4m (18ft) may be applied throughout the period 23rd Oct to 5th Nov as required. From 1st Nov until 5th Nov the bridge will be commissioned and intermittent swing operations will occur.

Upon the successful conclusion of bridge commissioning, flag signals and signs will be adjusted to indicate a normal operational status accordingly.

Vessel Masters are advised to exercise extreme caution and obey any signals or signs as may be deemed necessary throughout the whole period.

3. Somerleyton swing bridge, like its sister bridge at Reedham, was built in 1905 to replace the single track bridges that carried the railway between Norwich and Lowestoft over the Yare and Waveney rivers. Both bridges are constructed from wrought iron, brick, cast steel and timber.

4. In recognition of the disruption some boat users may have encountered as a result of problems with Somerleyton swing bridge, Network Rail has funded a mooring pontoon upstream where yachts can lower their masts safely and where vessels can wait safely for a bridge swing.

Contact information

Passengers / community members
Network Rail national helpline
03457 11 41 41

Latest travel advice
Please visit National Rail Enquiries

Network Rail press office - South East route
020 3357 7969

About Network Rail

We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.

Usually, there are almost five million journeys made in the UK and over 600 freight trains run on the network. People depend on Britain's railway for their daily commute, to visit friends and loved ones and to get them home safe every day. Our role is to deliver a safe and reliable railway, so we carefully manage and deliver thousands of projects every year that form part of the multi-billion pound Railway Upgrade Plan, to grow and expand the nation's railway network to respond to the tremendous growth and demand the railway has experienced - a doubling of passenger journeys over the past 20 years.

Follow us on Twitter: @networkrail
Visit our online newsroom: www.networkrailmediacentre.co.uk