Lightweight, modular prototype to ‘revolutionise’ rail footbridge builds

The prototype footbridge is constructed from lightweight FRP (Image courtesy of Network Rail)

Network Rail is trialling a lightweight modular footbridge that it claimed could revolutionise the way it builds footbridges over tracks.

The bridge, made from fibre-reinforced polymer (FRP) typically used in the manufacture of cars and aircraft, can be installed within days and features built-in monitoring to assess usage and maintenance needs.

The circular bridge can be adapted to different locations, thanks to its modular design.

Network Rail currently has just one option when considering building a new footbridge or replacing an old one – the standard non-station footbridge design, which it said is heavy, unattractive and expensive to deliver.

Network Rail said it hoped the new design would be adopted across the country as part of a wider programme of work to transform how footbridges are built on the rail network, as well as providing an alternative to existing crossings.

The next phase of the project involves developing sustainable procurement and construction options as well as a ramped version of the bridge.

The prototype has been trial built at a test centre in Long Marston, Warwickshire, and will go on show there at the 2021 RAIL Live event on June 16-17.

Andy Cross, Network Rail programme manager, said: “We were able to take a different approach. This has allowed us to work with several small and medium-sized businesses, many of whom haven’t worked on railway projects before but have the skills and expertise to bring the concept of a lightweight, low-cost footbridge to life.

“In just 11 months we have developed a prototype bridge that is stunning in design, environmentally friendly and will take days and not weeks to install and thereby causing less disruption for the surrounding community.”

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