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Network Rail develops new type of footbridge

17 Jun 21 Network Rail has developed a new footbridge design, made from plastic and quicker to install.

Network Rail says that the innovative circular bridge is set to ‘revolutionise’ the way footbridges are built over the tracks.

The prototype fibre-reinforced polymer (FRP) rail footbridge has been trial built at a test centre in Long Marston, Warwickshire.

Because FRP is so much lighter than steel, the bridge can be installed in just days, and its modular design means it can be adapted to different locations. It also has built-in monitoring to assess usage and maintenance needs.

The hope is that the new design will be adopted across the country as part of a wider programmer of work to transform how footbridges are built on the rail network. The next phase of the project involves developing procurement and construction options as well as a ramped version of the bridge.

Network Rail programme manager Andy Cross 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.

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“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.”

There is a team of organisations that worked with Network Rail to develop the new bridge.

  • Knight Architects came up with the concept.
  • Consulting engineer Jacobs provided design expertise and independent checking of the design.
  • KS Composite, a UK-based manufacturer whose usual clients include prestige car manufacturers and Formula One teams, made the bridge spine.
  • Sui Generi, another UK manufacturer specialising moulded components (including tractor bodywork) made the deck units that clamp to the spine.
  • Epsilon Optics designed, manufactured and installed the fibre-optic monitoring system.
  • Q-Railings installed the glazed parapet railing.
  • JT Consulting designed, manufactured and installed the Rapid Root foundation system.
  • Flofo provided virtual working platforms and new approaches to team working and monitoring the risks and opportunities of the project.

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