Swing bridge upgrades will deliver more reliable journeys for passengers in East Anglia

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Network Rail’s planned upgrade of the electrical and mechanical systems of three swing bridges at Reedham, Somerleyton and Oulton Broad will improve reliability for passengers and reduce disruption for boat users.

Thought to date back to around 1905, the internal components of the three swing bridges haven’t been replaced in over 100 years and need frequent and costly maintenance. Starting autumn this year, Network Rail’s engineers will be upgrading the internal components for each bridge which includes replacing :

  • the winch systems,
  • hydraulic jacks and pipework,
  • lighting and;
  • Installing new power systems.

This work will make the bridges less prone to faults, reducing the need for maintenance and will be able to operate more reliably throughout the year for passengers. It will also benefit river traffic by providing more reliable access to the local waterways and support the local economy, especially throughout the busy summer period when tourists are welcomed to the area.

The three bridges are an important part of Network Rail’s railway heritage and work to the internal elements of the bridges will be carried out whilst also maintaining the current look-and-feel and heritage of each bridge.

Video of drone flypast of the three swing bridges at Reedham, Somerleyton and Oulton Broad. 

Travel advice for rail passengers

Network Rail is planning to close the Wherry line between Reedham and Lowestoft and the East Suffolk line between Lowestoft and Beccles to allow engineers to complete the upgrade work to the swing mechanisms. The bridges will be closed on the following dates:

  • Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 September 2022
  • Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 October 2022
  • Saturday 22 October to Sunday 6 November 2022 inclusive (16 days)
  • Sunday 20 November 2022

Greater Anglia will be running a rail replacement bus service so that rail passengers are able to complete their journeys. Details will be available closer to the time of the work taking place on www.greateranglia.co.uk and www.nationalrailenquiries.co.uk.

Advice for boat users

We have been working in coordination with the Broads Authority to plan this work after the busy summer tourist period to minimise disruption. River access for vessels will be limited while the work takes place but there will be short windows of opportunity to open the bridges during the 16-day period to allow river access which will be communicated by The Broads Authority to boat users prior to works commencing. 

Ellie Burrows, Network Rail’s route director for Anglia, said: “These bridges are an important part of our railway heritage and also an important part of keeping both rail and boat traffic moving. Renewing the components will reduce the risk of mechanical problems and help keep services running safely, smoothly and reliably for our passengers, as well as maintaining access to the ports and marinas.”

Jamie Burles, Greater Anglia managing director said: “This work will make our Norwich and Ipswich to Lowestoft lines even more reliable, which I know our customers will welcome. While the work is going on we will make sure customers can still complete their journeys with a rail replacement bus service.”

Rob Rogers, Broads Authority Director of Operations, commented: “This much-needed investment by Network Rail into the Broads’ swing bridges is very much welcomed by the Broads Authority and our boating communities.

It has been a challenging few years for our river users regarding the bridges and we are delighted to hear that work is progressing to allow them to reliably open for river traffic.

We urge the boating community to note the periods of closure above and to check our website as the works progress for any navigation updates.”

For more information, please visit our Anglia swing bridge renewals project page

You can also follow us on Twitter for the latest news in the Anglia region @NetworkRailANG using the hashtag #AngliaSwingBridges

Photo credit: Network Rail

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