A footbridge in Wales that was badly damaged when it was hit by a skip lorry has been removed so that the railway beneath it can be reopened.
The Ty’n-y-Graig footbridge between Llanbradach and Ystrad Mynach was struck by a vehicle at around 9:25am on Thursday 28 May. It crosses both a minor road and the twin-track Rhymney line that runs from Cardiff Central to Rhymney via Caerphilly.
The bridge was so badly damaged that the railway was immediately closed between Caerphilly and Ystrad Mynach, replaced by a bus service.
Transport for Wales and its contractor Alun Griffiths worked together around the clock to remove the bridge and reopen the line. It was removed overnight on Friday 29 May, allowing trains to begin running again ahead of schedule on the morning of Saturday 30 May.
Further work took place overnight on Sunday 31 May to complete the work, including removing the footbridge steps and demolishing the remaining abutment.
TfW is committed to reinstating the crossing as possible but cannot yet give a detailed timeline for the work due to the challenges presented by Coronavirus (COVID-19). The pandemic has not only changed the way TfW’s teams work but has also impacted on the supply chain and the lead-in times for materials.
The building of a typical bridge on railway lines involves many stages, including consultations, site investigations, preliminary and detailed design, materials procurement, fabrication, enabling works and, finally, installation. TfW will now need to consider how this is all delivered in the context of COVID-19 as safely and quickly as possible.
Transport for Wales chief executive officer James Price praised the workforce for safely demolishing the damaged footbridge and reopening the line: “On behalf of everyone at TfW, I’d like to thank our infrastructure team and our colleagues at Griffiths for their hard work in ensuring the safe removal of the Ty’n-y-Graig footbridge,” he said. “It is another example of our commitment to working collaboratively with our partners to Keep Wales Moving.
“I’d also like to thank our customers and the community of Llanbradach for their patience and understanding while work was being undertaken on the bridge. We appreciate that this is an historic facility used by the members of the community to access local woodlands, and we are committed to reinstating it as soon as we can.”
Ironically, as Transport for Wales had made the decision to close the footbridge due to safety concerns just a fortnight before, the footbridge was slated for renewal anyway.
Transport for Wales is urging all haulage and lorry drivers to always check the height of their vehicle before journeys and to also check their travel routes for low bridges and plan ahead. Bridge strikes cause delays for rail passengers and also cost the taxpayer thousands in damages and delays.
Network Rail experiences, on average, five bridge strikes per day. The frequency can be up to 10 strikes per day especially at certain times of the year such as the approach to Christmas.
In order to reduce the frequency and impact of bridge strikes Network Rail is currently attempting to change driver and operator behaviours through a campaign referred to as the 4 Es – focusing on Education, Engineering, Enablement and Enforcement.