Thursday 21 Nov 2019
Stonea underpass closed for up to a year following bridge strike
- Region & Route:
The underpass at Stonea on the Ely-Peterborough railway line between March and Manea will remain temporarily closed for safety reasons until late 2020 to allow for crucial repair works
Following discussions between Network Rail and the local authority the underpass will remain closed until the repair works are completed, in order to prevent any further bridge strikes and maintain safety for railway users.
The bridge has a height restriction of 2.1m (7ft) and has been struck by vehicles 13 times in 2019. The last vehicle collision in October caused significant damage to the bridge’s impact protection beam and supporting brickwork.
Having assessed the damage in recent weeks, Network Rail contractors will now remove the damaged cast iron beam and timber walkway at track level and begin the lengthy process of installing a new protection beam over the coming months.
A new impact protection beam will be designed to withstand future bridge strikes and will include visible signage to warn motorists of the bridge’s height restriction.
The surveys, design and associated repair works will take 9-12 months to complete and the underpass will therefore remain closed for this period. Drivers can continue to use the level crossing next to the underpass to cross the railway.
Network Rail will inform local residents living near the bridge about its closure and the reasons for the planned works.
Mark Budden, Network Rail (Anglia) Route Director, said:
“Because of the extensive damage caused by the vehicle strike in October, we need to ensure no other vehicles can strike the bridge until a new impact protection beam has been installed. This is crucial in enabling us to safely run train services between Ely and Peterborough.
I recognise that the works will cause some inconvenience for local residents and motorists using the underpass and adjacent level crossing, but once complete, we hope the upgraded beam will protect the bridge for years to come.”
Notes to Editors
Notes to Editors
The Stonea rail bridge was originally constructed in 1895. At a height of 2.1m it is the one of the lowest bridge structures over a highway on the Anglia rail network.
The section of the bridge deck supporting the railway is made of wrought iron troughs supporting timbers onto which the rails are fastened. Walkways, supported by cast iron beams on either side of the railway, are used by NR maintenance teams
There have been 13 strikes to Stonea bridge since January 2019, most recently on 21 October when agricultural machinery being towed struck the bridge.
The collision on 21 October broke the outer cast iron protection beam supporting the maintenance walkway on one side of the bridge. The beam is now unsafe and needs to be removed along with the walkway itself. It is now propped to prevent it falling onto the road until it can be safely removed.
A new beam will be designed and constructed to withstand the impact from a potential traffic collision and protect the bridge deck supporting the railway.
The new beam will include clear signage to warn motorists of the height restriction.
A temporary speed restriction of 20mph has been placed on the approaches to the adjacent level crossing along with improved lighting to ensure road safety.
“Wise Up, Size Up”
Bridge strikes by road vehicles are completely avoidable, and they cause disruption to rail passengers and road users.
NR estimate that strikes to railway bridges nationwide cost around £23 million in repairs annually
Last year, Network Rail launched a campaign aimed at drivers of high-sided vehicles urging them to "wise up and size up" their vehicle and plan their route before they head out on their journey.
It is important that drivers know the height and width of their vehicle and pay close attention to warning signs.
More details about the campaign are available here:
Network Rail (Anglia) Press Office: Tel 0203 356 2515
Passengers / community members
Network Rail national helpline
03457 11 41 41
Latest travel advice
Please visit National Rail Enquiries
Media Relations Manager (Anglia)
0203 356 2515
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.
Every day, there are more than 4.8 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.