New railway bridge set to be installed this month

Photo of the replacement bridge standing in the site compound.
The replacement Gipsy Patch Lane railway bridge stands ready in the Alun Griffiths site compound.

Installation of the replacement railway bridge on Gipsy Patch Lane is set to take place during a 13-day closure of the railway starting on 25th October, barring any last-minute setbacks resulting from the resurgent coronavirus pandemic.

Aerial view of the site (august 2020).
Aerial view of the site in August, showing new bridge in the construction compound and the embankment ramp. The red arrow indicates the path of the bridge move that is set to take place in October.

The new 4,500-ton bridge, which has been constructed in a compound within the adjacent Horizon 38 business park, was originally due to be moved into place during a nine-day closure of the railway over Easter. However, the operation was called off because of the difficulty in adhering to government guidelines on social distancing amongst members of the 150-strong workforce.

Artist’s impression of excavators working to demolish existing bridge.
Artist’s impression of excavators working to demolish existing bridge.

During the 13-day railway closure, Network Rail and its contractor Alun Griffiths will be working continuously, night and day, to remove the track and overhead line equipment, demolish the existing bridge, move the new bridge into position and reinstall the track and overhead line equipment.

Alun Griffiths Battenhall Bridge timelapse video.
A self-propelled modular transporter being used to move a bridge during a similar project carried out by Alun Griffiths (Contractors).

Coronavirus precautions

Network Rail is regularly reviewing its contingency plans to mitigate as much risk as possible from coronavirus. However, the project team will be guided by any future government advice or directives and in the lead up to and during the works the situation on local lockdowns will be monitored.

The works will be carried out in compliance with the latest government guidelines for the construction industry. At present they include following social distancing, where tasks are not able to be undertaken with social distancing, appropriate PPE will be provided. Network Rail and Alun Griffiths have arranged additional welfare and extra cleaning provisions and there will be dedicated marshals on site at all times who will ensure controls and standards of cleanliness are maintained. Temperature checks of all personnel will also be taken on arrival to site.

Pedestrian access

The footpath under the railway bridge was due to close on the morning of Monday 28th September. Once the closure is in effect, Network Rail will reinstate the shuttle bus service for pedestrians needing to access either side of the bridge. This service will be free of charge and will operate for the duration of time the railway bridge is closed to pedestrians.

Photo of the railway bridge in September 2020.
Railway bridge on Gipsy Patch Lane, Little Stoke in September 2020.

The shuttle bus will be a point-to-point service with no intermediate stops. It will run weekdays, weekends and will also be available overnight. Full details are available on the SGC project website.

Following the bridge move, Network Rail will be working towards reopening a route under the bridge for pedestrians and dismounted cyclists. It is anticipated that passage will be restored during December 2020, but this date is subject to review as it is subject to how work progresses.

Train services

The bridge move will involve the closure of the railway line between Bristol Parkway and Newport from Sunday 25th October to Friday 6th November (inclusive). During this time train services in the area will be altered and buses will replace some trains. For further details, visit nationalrail.co.uk or GWR.com/Bristol

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Patchway Station

Between Sunday 25th October and Friday 6th November (inclusive) no trains will call at Patchway Station. However, rail replacement buses will run between Bristol Parkway, Patchway, Severn Tunnel Junction and Newport.

Parking suspensions will be in place at Patchway Station during this time to enable the rail replacement buses to turn. If you need to travel, customers are advised to park at Bristol Parkway instead.

Council staff will carry out additional parking enforcement patrols in the Station Road area.

Ongoing road closure

Once the new bridge has been moved into place and the railway line has been reopened, Gipsy Patch Lane will remain closed to all road users to enable further works on the carriageway. This work will include:

  • Demolition and excavation of the existing carriageway underneath the bridge
  • Re-grading the junction with Station Road to tie-in with the new carriageway level
  • Utility diversions underneath the new cycle and pedestrian pathways
  • Installation of new surface water drainage system, including pumping station

A full road closure for motor vehicles is expected to last until July 2021. Thereafter, traffic management measures will continue on Gipsy Patch Lane until the end of 2022, to enable the construction of new bus lanes along Gipsy Patch Lane either side of the bridge.

Station Road junction

The Station Road junction with Gipsy Patch Lane will also remain closed to vehicles after the railway line reopens. Pedestrians and cyclists will still be able to access Station Road via Gipsy Patch Lane.

The Station Road junction closure will enable Gipsy Patch Lane to be excavated down to the required new carriageway level, for new utilities and new drainage infrastructure to be installed and for the Station Road junction to be excavated down to tie-in with Gipsy Patch Lane.

The diversion route for vehicles to reach Station Road will remain via Little Stoke Lane and Clay Lane.

More information and related links:

This article originally appeared in the October 2020 issue of the Stoke Gifford Journal magazine (on pages 4 & 5). The magazine is delivered FREE, nine times a year, to over 5,000 homes in Stoke Gifford, Little Stoke and Harry Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.

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